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 pap smear result. Make an appointment 14 days after the start of your period.

Related: Screening for Heart Disease

2. Be Comfortable and Speak Up If You Feel Pain

You may feel some discomfort or pain during the pap smear 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.

Related: ABCs of Health Screening

3. Do Go Even If You Have Been Vaccinated

Yes, you should go for a Pap smear every three years even if you have been vaccinated.

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

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

Related: All You Need to Know About Vaccinations

4. The Risk of Cervical Cancer Increases with Age

Women who have had sexual intercourse and have never had a Pap smear 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 smear taken at this point in time is negative and the previous smear within the last 3 years was negative. Please consult your doctor if you are unsure.

Related: Sexuality and Ageing

5. Make It a Habit

Even if you feel healthy, a pap smear can detect changes in the cervix even before abnormal cervical cells become cancerous. You are encouraged to make it a habit to go for a pap smear once every 3 years, even if you do not experience any symptoms or pain.

Visit our FAQs on Pap Smear Screening for more information.

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