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What is a pap smear? And when do you have to start having one?
@mak_trouble891 A pap smear is a kind of test that looks for abnormal cell changes on the cervix. Human papillomavirus or HPV is almost always the cause of these abnormal cells and, if left untreated, they have the potential to become cancer. But don’t let the C-word scare you off! A pap smear is about cancer prevention! Detecting and treating early cell changes has proven hugely effective in preventing cervical cancer.
When should you get a pap smear? In Australia, anyone with a cervix who has ever had vaginal sex AND is 18-69 years old should have this test done every two years. It only takes a few minutes and is usually done with a GP but can also been done at a Family Planning Clinic or women’s health centre.
@Nurse_Nettie Do you still have to have one every two years if you’ve had the Gardasil vaccination?
The HPV vaccine protects against the two most common types of HPV that can cause cancer, but not every type! A pap smear every two years is still the best way to prevent cervical cancer.
@mak_trouble891 You need to be BOTH over 18 and have had vaginal sex one or more times. So…under 18 and sexually active? wait till you’re 18 for your first pap. Over 18 and never had sex? no need for a pap until you become sexually active.
Over in America, they recommend getting a pap smear every year. I can barely remember every two years!
Omg I am so thankful for my on-the-ball doctor – I am now in some trial so that I have a pap test less often! And they now have something in place so they’ll hunt me down when it’s time. Yay!
I only ever used to remember if I was sent something but that’s so hard when you move house.
Anything else think the word Pap Smear is kinda off-putting?
I’d never really thought of it before, but the ‘smear’ part in particular is a little shudder-worthy, @ElleBelle. What alternative would you suggest? Cervical screening?
@NickiPower Sadly I didn’t get to be one of the lucky ones that got 5 years but at least I got an extra 6months added (2.5yrs) for participating. Yay for medical research trials.
@ElleBelle @Aunt_Flo Isn’t that why all the official language switched to Pap test? Although I’ve just noticed the Cancer Council still use smear but all the screening services changed a few years ago, I thought.
It’s definitely the smear part. I think it’s just one of those words (like my most hated word,”moist”) that is unjustifiably cringeworthy. Pap test or cervical screening sound better. What doe the Pap part mean anyway, was it a person? @Nurse_Nettie do you know?
@Kit I paid an extra $20 to have the same, less frequent, more accurate screen. It’s coming on medicare now. 🙂