By the Adelady Team
We thought we’d start with a bit of a disclaimer because this article is going to be jam-packed with some of the following words:
Ha — but seriously, this is one of those rare moments where we have an opportunity to use Adelady to spread the word about some important updates regarding our lady parts, to make sure all our sisters are keeping themselves as healthy as possible. So, stick with us through this uncomfortable convo because we guarantee it will be worth it!
It’s always nice to start with some hardcore honesty so here it is — 3 out of 4 of our team is very conscious of booking themselves in for regular cervical screening and check ups with our GP.
The other 1 team member has only had one pap smear EVER and while we don’t want to name and shame, it starts with L and ends with AUREN. Luckily for her, she’s surrounded by a team with zero boundaries, so we’ve made the appointment for her #yourewelcome.
When we started chatting about this (AKA ribbing into Lauren about how she NEEDS to go more regularly) it quickly became clear how many myths surround the good old cervical screening situation. So that’s how we ended up here, hosting our very own cervical Myth-Busters.
Here are our very real, and very wrong statements that we’ve Myth-Busted just for you…
“You don’t have to get tested at at all if you haven’t had sex lately”
Fact :: It doesn’t matter when the last time you got lucky was, the point is that if you’ve ever been lucky at all and you’ve reached the ripe old age of 25, it’s time to book in for a Cervical Screening Test.
Why wait until 25, you ask? That’s because cervical cancer is super rare in women under 25 so you’re safe to wait until then (our 22 year old team member, Millie, was happy to hear this since she has been getting tested since she was 19 — now the test has changed she shouldn’t need to go back until she’s 25).
“I thought you only had to do it if you were having sex with different people”
Fact :: Whether you’ve only ever got it on with 1 partner, or 100 partners, it doesn’t matter. You need to be tested all the same!
“There’s a new test now, so you don’t have to go for another 5 years or something”
Fact :: Part of this is true – there is an awesome new Cervical Screening Test which is more thorough than the classic pap smear since it looks for HPV before it starts to change your cervix cells, and can prevent up to 90% of all cervical cancers.
However this new test is due two years after your last pap smear and THEN you don’t have to go for another 5 years! Much better than having to go every 2 years for the rest of forever, that’s for sure.
“I had the HPV injection at school so I can’t get cervical cancer”
Fact :: Hate to break it to you, but that injection you got at school isn’t going to cut the mustard this time around. You still need to have a Cervical Screening Test regardless of if you had the vaccination or not.
“So you just kind of lie down and then a doctor has a look at your bits?”
Fact :: It’s a little more complicated than that. You’ll be asked to lie down on the examination table, with your legs bent and feet flat on the table. A doctor might ask you to put your hands or a pillow under your bum to tilt your pelvis and open your cervix a little bit more. Then the doctor will insert something that looks like tongs into your vaginal passage and open them up to clear the way to the cervix opening (don’t be stressed by this — it’s uncomfortable but remember that your body is made to fit a baby through there so this is much easier in comparison!) then they’ll take a swab with what looks like a glorified Q-Tip cotton bud and send it in for testing. Then voila, discomfort is over and you’re free to leave.
Just remember that if you’re nervous or have your doubts, just let your doctor know and they’ll talk you through each and every step of the way.
“It’s just so bloody awkward getting checked out by a stranger”
Fact :: Firstly, it’s not awkward at all. Without thinking about it too hard, it’s actually amazing how many different vaginas your GP has seen in their lifetime — seeing yours is just another part of work for them, like collecting the mail or paying an invoice.
However if you are one of the eligible women (over 30 years old, been 4 years or more since your last pap test, or you’ve never been screen) then you can ask your doctor if you can do a self-collection test. To follow on from the above, this is also basically a glorified Q-Tip cotton bud that you insert yourself in privacy at the doctor’s rooms. You can’t do it at home, and you can’t get it wrong because your GP will talk you through it beforehand.
So there you have it. We don’t know about you but we’re feeling much more cervix-savvy now that we’ve had this open and honest chat. We can’t stress enough how important it is to get regularly tested, as each year around 800 Australian women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, however with regular screening most of those diagnosis can be prevented.
Those 10 minutes of discomfort could save you SO much future pain so get onto it, girls!
Lots of love from us xxx