Monday, January 29th, 2018
This week is European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week – This piece on cervical screening and cervical smear tests will be the first in a series of women’s health promotion and information blogs. I will also share some of my own experiences both as a nurse and as a patient! This will hopefully encourage you to have conversations about health between you and your friends and family.
Smear tests can save your life.
I recall when I got my ‘invitation letter’ for my cervical smear test. I was 25 and working as a nurse. Firstly, being a nurse didn’t spare my ignorance on this topic. I also knew that it was a screening test for cervical cancer and this was as far as my knowledge went. I read the information leaflet that came with my invite letter and put it to one side. It wasn’t until I got my ‘final reminder’ letter that I actually contacted my GP practice to make an appointment. I was close to if not already 26. Why did I put it off? Two reasons: 1. I thought that I had to have it done in my local GP practice, this is not the case. 2. Honestly, I didn’t realise that it was so important.
For those of you that don’t know, a cervical smear test (pap test) or cervical screening test is an examination of a woman’s cervix (area at the entrance to the womb) where a sample of cells are taken (using a very soft brush – see pictures!) and placed in a pot of liquid fluid and sent to the lab to be tested/checked. We are checking for “abnormal” “irregular” or “not normal” cells, these are very common and when picked up early can be monitored/treated if necessary. This test is done by inserting a plastic instrument called a speculum (I know the terminology is encouraging in itself!) into the vagina in order to check out the cervix.
The test is quick, it only takes a few minutes and is not meant to be painful. Sometimes it can take a bit longer, this is because the cervix is quite mobile and can move around (this is normal). People can experience a little discomfort and this is usually if there a vaginal infection such as thrush present. It is no problem to stop a smear test if you feel uncomfortable and it can be done at a different time when any infection has been treated and cleared.
See its not so scary!
The Cervical Check website has all the information you may need in relation to cervical screening and cervical smear tests in Ireland and all their research is based on international best practice and research combined with their own research since the programme began.
Check out when your next cervical smear test is due here. If you are 25 or over and have never had a smear test in Ireland and you have a PPS number – don’t delay, you are entitled to a free smear test and can make an appointment straight away. You don’t need to wait for a letter from cervical check.
Once you have checked the date for your next smear – you can book your appointment with us online. If you cannot see a time that suits, please call us on 016579044
We also offer a swab to check for Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea which is included in your free smear.
Remember, don’t fear the smear – It could save your life!
Cervical Check is the national cervical screening programme in Ireland. It offers FREE screening (cervical smear tests) to all women aged between 25-60 living in Ireland. (Note, you must have a PPS Number to avail of the test)
written by Gemma Keogh