Her Check-Up: Let's Talk About Smear Tests
So it’s probably not the most comfortable way to spend fifteen minutes, and sure we can think of a million other things we’d prefer to do with our time – but a smear test is one of life’s little necessities for a woman.
If you’re aged between 25 and 60, you’re not only entitled to a free smear test, but it’s a crucial procedure that can help detect changes in the cells of the cervix (neck of the womb). Changes are common and cervical screening by smear tests can pick up early cell changes so they can be monitored or treated.
Early detection is essential, so ladies it’s time to book the test. Fifteen minutes of awkward doctor’s conversation can literally be life changing.
So how exactly is a smear test carried out?
We promise you it’s not as bad as you think it’s going to be, and you’ve definitely built it up in your head. Most women do not feel any pain during a smear test, but some women may find it a bit uncomfortable or embarrassing. If you feel nervous, be sure to let your doctor know, as they can help relax you and can carry out the test at your own pace.
The cervical screening test usually takes around five minutes to carry out. An instrument called a speculum will be gently inserted into your vagina to hold the walls of your vagina open so that your cervix is visible. A small soft brush will be used to take some cells from the surface of your cervix.
A sample of cervical cells will then be sent to a laboratory and examined under a microscope to see whether there are any abnormal cells. If the test picks up abnormalities in the cells in your cervix, it may be recommended that you have treatment to remove them, or further tests in a few months to see if they return to normal on their own.
Image via Cervical Check
Where can I book in for a smear test?
As mentioned above, women aged 25 - 60 are entitled to a free cervical smear test. Check out the website here for how to book an appointment, or contact your local GP who can schedule you in for the test. The test is also one of a number of services offered by the Well Women's Clinic.
Remember, if you have any worries, be sure to contact your doctor and voice your concerns. It may also help to bring along a trusted friend, sister or partner for support if this is your first test.
Let's face it, every second person in the world has a vagina - so let's make sure we keep them, and our cervix, healthy.