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What is cervical screening

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is, globally, the most common sexually-transmitted disease; usually, it presents symptomless or is associated with painless growths. However, certain high-risk viral strains (particularly HPV 16 and 18) are known to be involved in cell changes that lead to cancers including those of the cervix, vulva, and even some of the head and neck. Those that smoke or have a weakened immune system have a greater chance that their immune system won’t be able to deal with these problematic strains. To decrease your risk of cervical cancer, consider making lifestyle changes and undergoing checkups regularly (i.e., by taking at home HPV tests). 





Such preventative measures include going in for your cervical screenings - previously called smear tests. This test detects high-risk HPV in your cervix (a channel located at the lower end of the uterus). Usually painless, this test involves a healthcare professional taking some cells from the surface of your cervix using a small brush. This sample is then sent for analysis in a laboratory and the results are available in around 2 weeks. Cervical screenings are recommended for women from up to 6 months before the age of 25. From 25 years old, it is acceptable to go for a smear test once every three years. After the age of 50, women are invited only once every 5 years for screening. 

To improve this experience, consider discussing alternative accommodations for your cervical screen. This includes requesting the presence of a friend, a doctor of a particular gender, or even an earlier appointment. Depending on availability, you could request a smaller speculum or post-menopausal prescription such as estrogen cream to maximize comfort. 


We understand that cervical screens carry with them varying levels of discomfort and emotional distress. However, it is a valuable tool in preventing cervical cancer alongside HPV vaccines.


Make sure you check our Preventionist Manual series with Cervical Cancer, All About HPV and coming soon, parent's guide for kids in the Start em' Young edition. And follow us on our social channels, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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