I had my first test at 18 years old, this was the old test called a “Pap Smear”, I had three of the old tests. Since the test changed in 2017 to a Cervical Screening Test starting at the age of 25, I have had two of those.
How did the test feel?
Going for my first Cervical Screening Test, I felt nervous and a little anxious. I was scared about what was going to happen and what was expected of me.
During my appointment, I asked lots of questions about the procedure. I think this helped put my mind at ease.
It was a little uncomfortable, but it did not hurt me. After, I felt so proud of myself for going to my appointment, staying calm and pushing through. It really wasn’t as bad as what I thought it would be.
My advice to others is – do some research, have a look online about what to expect and what happens at a cervical screening appointment.
It really is a quick test that can be done in a few minutes, by your doctor or nurse. You can always call your screening provider beforehand to chat on the phone about the test. This may help you understand the importance of the screening test and what it involves.
On the day of your appointment, try to stay as calm as possible, wear loose clothing and use the toilet beforehand so you don’t have a full bladder!
What happens after the test?
From one of my Cervical Screening Tests, I received a positive result. I was confused as I had received the HPV vaccine at school.
After discussing my results with my screening provider, I realised even though I had the HPV vaccine, it does not cover me for all the different strains of HPV and I need to have regular screening to test for HPV or any abnormalities to my cervix.
The positive result meant that the test had detected a strain of higher risk HPV in my cervix. I was referred to the hospital for a colposcopy – a procedure where a doctor looks closely at the cells in your cervix using a microscope.
How to find a provider
Cancer Council have a great online directory, where you can search for a provider in your area. I decided I would like to see a female provider as I thought they can kind of relate to how I may feel!
I chose my provider because it was easy for me to book an appointment, it was free, and I felt comfortable around my provider before the actual screening test. I think this really helped me.
Find a cervical screening provider to meet your needs, visit: cancervic.org.au/at-your-cervix