Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Love Yourself, Do A Pap Smear Test

Since marriage, I thought long and hard about my personal health. To prepare to carry life inside you, I believe we as women need to ensure that we are healthy first. Having done some of the basic checks such as blood & urine test, my doctor recommended I do a pap smear test.

I recall we learning about pap smear test during secondary school days. Depending on how attentive are you in school, the only thing I remember is that they will extract some cells from within you using some scary looking tool that basically freaked my classmates out. I still remember those words from our PJK teacher "Remember girls, must do pap smear when you are older, ok?"

I admit not knowing much about pap smear apart from my teacher's advice, hence searched up the internet for more insight. Here's what I found out :

  • A Pap Smear is a test of a sample of cells taken from a woman's cervix. The test is used to look for changes in the cells of the cervix that show cervical cancer or conditions that may develop into cancer. [1]
  • The cervix is the neck of the womb, which is where a foetus develops during pregnancy. The cervix leads to a passage called the vagina and to the exterior of the body. [2]
  • When cancer develops in the cervix, cells start to behave abnormally. They start multiplying very quickly, building up into a lump or tumour. If left untreated, the cancer can spread to other parts of the body through the blood or lymphatic system. [2]
  • This cancer can take years to develop. However, before it develops, early changes take place in the cells on the surface of the cervix. This is called the pre-cancerous stage. At this point, the abnormal cells can easily be detected through Pap Smear test. [2]
  • A Pap Smear test is an effective way to test for cancerous or potentially cancerous cells. It is a simple, painless test that can detect cancer of the cervix at an early stage when simple treatment can result in a total cure. [2]
  • A Pap Smear test is usually quite painless. A qualified doctor or nurse will do an internal examination by gently taking cells from the surface of the cervix speculum using a spatula to open. The cells are then placed on a glass slide, which will then be sent to a laboratory for a microscopic examination. [2]
  • All women aged 20 and above – particularly those who are sexually active – will need a Pap Smear test. It should be done as a precautionary measure once a year. You need not necessarily have any symptoms of cancer to have this test done. [2]
  • A test is best done in the middle of the menstrual cycle, seven or 10 days after the start of menstruation. [2]

At the clinic, the doctor told me to lie down while she prepared her equipment. I consider myself to be lucky not to see the huge spatula or whichever tool she used to extract the cells from me, else I would probably freak out. Some of my friends said the process is painful, but I didn't feel any pain from it, only a sense of uncomfortableness throughout the entire process. It didn't help me at all to feel something moving around within you, and then the doctor exclaimed, "I can't find your cervix", and proceeded on looking for it using her fingers. I guess there was one point of time she sense I was feeling tense, hence asked me to relax. I did just that by thinking of something else, trying to distract my mind from what's really going on. Within less than 10 minutes, it was over.

I will only know my results next week, but at least I know I've done something to ensure my body is healthy. I know some of oka-san's friends have never performed a pap smear before, for the fear of the procedure. However I believe it is more important to check for its very purpose to detect the first signs of cervical cancer.

So looks like this is gonna be done annually. I'm certainly glad to pass the first round!

So what are you waiting for? Go do a pap smear test today!

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