Knowing the facts about your smear test is really important. It helps you prepare for the experience and know what to expect from the procedure. Unfortunately, there are some inaccurate pieces of information that can find their way to you. Anecdotes and hear-say can sometimes be the very reason you do not organize something that is so important for your health.
This is not true. As part of the national cervical screening programme in Ireland, all women aged twenty-five to sixty is invited for free regular smear tests.
There is usually a 6-8 week waiting period before results will be given to you. They will write to you by post and the results may be disclosed in the letter. They may also suggest contacting your GP who will explain the results in detail.
The huge benefit of a smear test is the fact that it can prevent Cancer from developing. An irregular smear may highlight changes in the cervix that could later develop into Cancer. Noticing these changes gives you the opportunity to have something done about it before it may progress into something worse. An irregular smear does not mean Cancer has been found.
For most people, a cervical smear test is mildly uncomfortable at most. It can be more uncomfortable for some people depending on the position of the cervix and any other health issues they may have but for the most part, the thought of it is worse than the procedure itself.
You must book your smear test. Cervical Check may write to you as a reminder that your smear test is due but they will not make the appointment for you. You can easily see when your next smear test is due by visiting www.cervicalcheck.ie and having your PPSN to hand.
Research shows that those who have never been sexually active have a low chance of developing cervical cancer but it is not impossible. If you have been sexually active in the past it is recommended to continue having your regular cervical smear tests.
HPV is a common virus that is usually spread through the skin to skin contact that occurs during sexual activity. Most people will have HPV at some point in their life and it will clear up by itself. In the case where low-grade changes are found through your smear test, the sample may be tested for HPV. The presence of HPV may lead to a more detailed investigation of your cervix. This is called a colposcopy. HPV can lead to cervical changes that result in cervical cancer but in most cases, it does not.
Unless you are due to have a smear test around this time you are not required to have one after you have given birth.