Ok Mums, are you ready? We really need to chat. And yes, it’s that word that makes some of us squirm! We need to talk about all things vaginal … actually cervical to be precise.
Cervical Screening Test now replaces your Pap Smear
You may have seen that Pap Smears have been replaced by the Cervical Screening Test (we’ll call it the CST). The best news? You now need to be tested every 5 years, as opposed to every 2 years. And it is believed that this test will save 30% more women from enduring cervical cancer.
But while this is fab news, there have been plenty of rumours and misinformation flying around about whether this new test is actually a good thing and whether we are right to trust only having a test every 5 years.
So instead of listening to all the hoo ha (sorry couldn’t resist), I decided to go straight to the source and ask someone in the know – someone who actually performs Cervical Screening Tests on a daily basis.
I went to see Dr Amanda Sabel and her lovely team at Bunbury Maternity and Womens Clinic and had an in-depth chat about exactly what this new test means for women.
Here are the key things YOU need to know:
- The new test actually tests for the HPV virus rather than just looking for abnormal cells like the old Pap Smear did. It is said that HPV causes 99% of all cervical cancer (the 1% of cases not caused by the virus would not actually be picked up by the old Pap Smear test either). By testing for the virus and then only looking at the cells for women who test positive means that less women are having unnecessary procedures for abnormal cells which may actually return to normal without any intervention (you can read more about this here).
- If you’re worried that 5 years is a long time between tests … cervical cancer is very slow to develop, even if you were to develop a HPV infection the day after your test, it can take 10-15 years for the cancer cells to develop, so you would still be at low risk.
- The new test uses a softer brush implement as opposed to the “scraping” that occurred with the older Pap Smear procedure.
- If you are detected to have HPV (and it’s ok, it’s a common and normal virus for sexually active humans) then your cells will automatically be tested, so you do not need to have a repeat procedure.
- You can have a CST while you’re pregnant. In fact, if you have not had a CST or pap smear within 3-5 years of becoming pregnant, it’s better to have the test than wait until after the birth as pregnancy hormones can increase changes to your cells. A small number of women are diagnosed with cervical cancer whilst being pregnant. You can read more info on this here.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
And here’s something that could be life changing if you’re like me and have a shy cervix that doesn’t always like to show itself when it needs to. Speculums come in different sizes. Yep, if having a CST or Pap Smear has been uncomfortable for you in the past (um, hello) then perhaps the person performing the procedure was not using the correct sized speculum. Taller ladies generally have a longer vagina and cervix and therefore need a larger speculum. Seriously, I’m not joking.
Hopefully this clears up some of the questions you may have had around the CST and even more important, if you are in need of a test, please let this be your reminder to make an appointment.
There is a list of Frequently Asked Questions in relation to the test here.
It’s now a once every 5 year event … come on, if you don’t want to do it for yourself. do it for you kids.
To make an appointment to see Dr Amanda Sabel, please contact Bunbury Maternity & Womens Clinic.