January 25, 2024 3 min read

Do you know how a simple test can be a game-changer for your health? Welcome to the My Sexual Health (MSH) " Pap Smear Guide," your key to understanding this crucial cervical screening procedure. Here, we'll shed light on why a Pap smear is a vital part of your wellness journey. By the end of this guide, you'll not only grasp its importance but also feel equipped and empowered to take this proactive step in your healthcare routine.

What is a Pap Smear?

A Pap smear, also known as a cervical screening, is a procedure that plays a pivotal role in the early detection of cervical cancer. It involves gently collecting cells from your cervix, the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina. These cells are then examined using a technology called liquid-based cytology to identify any abnormal changes that could indicate the risk of cancer.

Why It's Important

Cervical screening is crucial for early cancer detection. It can identify abnormal cervical changes before they potentially develop into cancer. Early detection through a liquid cytology test significantly improves the likelihood of successful treatment and helps prevent the progression to cervical cancer.  It also helps to stratify your risk - if your screening is normal, you can wait longer for your next test. If it is abnormal, you might be referred for further testing immediately or just be advised to follow up sooner.

Preparing for Your Cervical Screening

Preparing for a Pap smear/cervical screening is straightforward, but there are a few things you can do to ensure the accuracy of your test:

  • Schedule your test when you're not menstruating.
  • Avoid douching, or using any vaginal medicines or spermicidal foams, creams, or jellies for two days before the test, as these may wash away or obscure abnormal cells.

What to Expect During the Test

Before the cervical screening, your doctor will explain the procedure and get your full informed consent to go ahead. Remember, you can withdraw your consent at any point!

You will be offered privacy to undress and to put on a gown for the procedure. If a breast examination is not required, you might only undress at the bottom. You will be given a sheet to cover yourself.

During the test, you will lie on your back on an examination bed with your feet on the sides of the bed (no stirrups at MSH!). Your doctor will gently insert a speculum into your vagina to widen it, after obtaining consent again. They will then collect cells from your cervix using a small brush. This process is typically quick and causes minimal discomfort.

State Of The Art Technology

At MSH our doctors use only disposable, single-use speculums to eliminate the risk of contamination. We have a state-of-the art lighting system that inserts directly into the speculum, offering optimal viewing of your cervix for the most optimal sample collection. We also have ultrasounds in our examination room and can augment your examination with an ultrasound if necessary.

Understanding Your Results

The sample will be sent to a lab for evaluation. Results usually come back within one week, and there are generally two types of results:

  • Normal: No abnormal cells were detected.
  • Abnormal: Changes in the cells of your cervix were found. This does not mean you have cancer, but further testing may be needed.

If your results are normal, you will receive a letter in the form of an email from your Healthspace profile. If it is abnormal, your doctor will give you a call.

PLEASE REMEMBER: a PAP Smear is not an STI test! You can have a perfectly normal cervical screening, but still have an STI. If you are at any risk of an STI, please request STI tests in addition to your PAP smear. Your doctor might not notice the signs of STIs on the clinical examination alone. Special testing is still required.

Next Steps After an Abnormal Result

If you receive an abnormal result, don’t panic. Your doctor might recommend further testing, like a repeat screening, an HPV test, or a procedure called a colposcopy to closely examine your cervix, vagina, and vulva for signs of disease.

Book Your Pap Smear/ Cervical Screening today!

Pap smears or cervical screening are a vital part of health care for people with cervixes and should not be overlooked. They are one of the most reliable and effective cancer screening methods available! Regular testing can help detect potential issues early, increasing the chances of successful treatment and maintaining your health and well-being.

Ready to take this important step? Book your Cervical Screening with a My Sexual Health doctor today. Our skilled professionals are here to provide the care and guidance you need for a well-informed and healthy life. Make your health a priority – schedule your appointment now.

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