woman thinking about pap smear screening

1. Do Not Go If You Are On Your Period

You cannot be tested during your period as blood cells that are shed during your period may affect the accuracy of your result. Make an appointment 14 days after the start of your period.

2. Be Comfortable and Speak Up If You Feel Pain

You may feel some discomfort or pain during the process. It helps if you try to relax when the speculum is inserted. If you feel pain during the process, inform your doctor or nurse immediately.

3. Do Go Even If You Have Been Vaccinated

Yes, you should go for a Pap test every three years (if you are between 25 to 29 years old) or HPV test every five years (if you are 30 years old and above) even if you have been vaccinated.

About 10% to 30% cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) sub-types which the vaccines do not protect against. In other words, the vaccines do not protect against all cancer-causing HPV sub-types.

Going for regular cervical cancer screening is still your best protection against cervical cancer.

4. The Risk of Cervical Cancer Increases with Age

Women who have had sexual intercourse and have never had a cervical cancer screening should go for screening despite their age. However, a menopausal woman who goes for regular screening may be discharged at 69 years of age if her Pap test of HPV test taken at this point in time is negative and the previous test within the last 3 years was negative for Pap test and 5 years for HPV test. Please consult your doctor if you are unsure.

Related: Ways to Prevent Cervical Cancer

5. Make It a Habit

Even if you feel healthy, a cervical cancer screening can either detect changes in the cervix or identify high-risk cancer-causing HPV strains even before abnormal cervical cells become cancerous. You are encouraged to make it a habit to go for a Pap test once every 3 years if you are between 25 and 29 years old or once in 5 years for a HPV test even if you do not experience any symptoms or pain.

Visit our Cervical Cancer Screening FAQs for more information.

Read these next: