Does the idea of a pap smear make you
cringe? Don’t let cost or squeamishness put you off – cervical cancer kills
more women in Africa than any other form of cancer!
Here’s all the info you need to cut out any
During a pap smear, the doctor inserts a
speculum into your vagina. This is a small plastic or steel instrument, no
larger than an average size penis. It should not be painful to insert, maybe a
The doctor examines your external genitalia
and vagina for any abnormalities and then uses a small plastic brush to scrape
off the outer layer of cells on your cervix (the “mouth” of your womb”). This
isn’t painful. The sample is then sent to the lab to be screened for cancerous
or pre-cancerous cells.
A sexually transmitted virus called human
papiloma virus or HPV causes these cancerous changes. The pap smear doesn’t
automatically test for HPV, only for the changes in the cells caused by the
Your GP can also do your pap smear and they
are done for free at some government clinics.
This story originally appeared on
womenshealthsa.co.za - visit the site to read the full version.