Pap smear due already? Oh no!!

Posted by on 22 June, 2010

Your PAP smear survival guide

Surviving your pap smear

Here in Australia, our Federal government send us a courtesy love letter to remind us to attend our biennial grease and oil check; the pap smear.

For reasons that hardly need expanding, women are often not overly keen to strip off and bare all for this fun little test. But it is necessary. The pap smear is trying to detect the red flags that suggest a cervical cancer might me on the way. The red flags on a pap smear are completely without symptoms so unless you have your tests, you’d never know they’re there.

The red flag changes come as a result of contracting Human Papilloma Virus, sexually. Don’t freak too much if that’s you because this virus is really common. In a recent US study, researchers found that around 27% of women test positive for the virus. That’s twice as common as herpes. I just got my stats back from the pathology company I use and 20% of my pap smears come back with a ‘low grade abnormality.’ So if you’ve had the dreaded call from your doc telling you all is not well with your pap smear, you’re in good company.

Very few of the pap smear red flag changes will go on to become cervical cancer and even if they do, we think there’s around a 20 year lag between the first abnormal pap smear and the cancer in earnest.

Once you’re convinced of the necessity of a pap smear, there’s the other business of surviving the process without making 100,000 excuses to be elsewhere.

Meanwhile here are 5 hot tips to make your pap smear less daunting;

  1. Chocolate. Try having a piece while you’re in the waiting room. The stress busting ingredients in dark chocolate will take the edge off the event.
  2. You can leave your socks on. Nothing makes you feel even more naked than being cold as well as stripped down. Leave your warm socks on.
  3. Make a fist. In fact 2 fists under your bottom will tilt your pelvis forward and make it easier for your doc to find your cervix if it points backwards- as do the little womb necks in a third of women. Less digging and excavating makes it less painful for you!
  4. Have a wash. Believe me this is more for you than for me. But being self conscious about smells etc makes it all worse. A quick 5 minute bathroom stop can make you feel more at ease.
  5. Don’t rush. Coming in frazzled having left work 5 minutes late for the appointment is a nightmare. Allow yourself some time and arrive feeling calmer.
Hoping yours is only every 2 years!