A smear test checks for any problems in the cells of your cervix. The cervix is the bottom part of your womb which opens into the vagina. Here are some frequently asked questions.
Does every woman need a smear test? For women aged 21 or older, this analysis is an essential part of routine health checking. After reaching menopause women still need a routine smear test, but can ask their doctor about stopping, at 65 or over.
What is HPV? Human papillomavirus (HPV)is a common infection caused by sexual transmission. A lot of women will not even know that they have HPV, and it usually goes away without treatment. In more severe cases, it can cause changes to cells in the cervix. The most effective method for discovering early signs of cervical cancer is to have a Pap smear test along with a HPV test. This combination has been proved to detect around 97 per cent of problems in the cervix.
Is a smear test accurate? The smear test is approximately 80 per cent reliable. It does not always detect something abnormal, but overall the smear test is trustworthy.
How do smear tests work? The test is quick and easy to do. As you are lying on the examination table, your doctor will insert an implement called a speculum into your vagina to allow him to look at your cervix.
He will then use a special brush to take out some cells, which are then placed on a glass slide. The slide is then sent away to a laboratory for testing. You should have the results in about three weeks.
What if the results are positive? Whilst it is worrying to receive abnormal test results, this does not necessarily mean that you have cancer. It is more than likely that you have a slight problem in your cervix, which can be treated.
Having regular smear tests will pick-up any problems early so they can be treated. Lab tests online can give you information on the process, for your peace of mind.