Please keep reading and if possible don’t hold back talking about such things with your children or your children’s partners/wives. It is so important and often wrongly, associated with sexually transmitted infections.
We only need cervical screening if we’re promiscuous or being impure right?
This is NOT the case. For the sake of your children’s physical and mental health please help them prevent ill health, let them take control and be proactive.
Thank you for being open minded. 🙂
What is cervical screening?
Cervical screening is a test to check the health of the cervix, which is the lower part of the womb (often called the neck of the womb). The test is usually called a ‘cervical smear’.
Cervical screening is not a test for diagnosing cervical cancer, but aims to prevent cancer from developing.
For most women, the test results do not show any abnormalities. However, for 1 in 10 women, the test result shows changes in the cells. These changes can be caused by many things.
Most of these changes will not lead to cancer, but some may develop into cancer if they are not treated.
Cervical screening saves over 1000 lives in the UK each year. However about 1500 women still die from cervical cancer in the UK each year.
Should women who are virgins have cervical smears?
If you’ve never had sexual intercourse, you are at low risk, but not at no risk, of developing cervical cancer. It is still not entirely clear what causes abnormalities to develop. Often, it is because a virus has infected the cervix. This virus is called human papilloma virus (HPV) and is passed on during sexual intercourse. The virus can be passed on in other forms of sexual activity apart from full intercourse. This applies to both heterosexual women and lesbians.
If a woman is not currently sexually active but has had male partners in the past, then we would recommend that she continues screening.”
If you’ve never had sexual intercourse, but you want to have a smear test, you should tell the doctor or nurse taking the smear that you have never had intercourse…”
Finally, the CancerResearch UK web site states:
“If you have never had a smear, you should have one done regardless of your age unless you have never been sexually active. Ask at your GP surgery or well woman clinic.” 
1. NHS Cervical Screening Programme. (http://www.cancerscreening.nhs.uk/cervical/index.html#active).
2. Cervical Screening Wales. Screening – Should women who are virgins have cervical smears? 2004. (http://www.screeningservices.org.uk/csw/screen/leaflets/virgins.html).
3. Cancer Research UK. Cervical cancer screening. Last updated January 2005. (http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/help/default_printer_friend.asp?page=2756). The NHS Cervical Screening Programme invites all women between the ages of 25 and 64 for cervical screening. But if a woman has never been sexually active with a man, then the research evidence shows that her chance of developing cervical cancer is very low indeed. We do not say no risk, only very low risk. In these circumstances, a woman might choose to decline the invitation for cervical screening on this occasion. If a woman is not currently sexually active but has had male partners in the past, then we would recommend that she continues screening.”
A Pap Smear
Since its introduction in 1939, the Pap smear has led to a 75% drop in cervical cancer deaths in the US. Yet, instead of lauding this achievement- undisputedly one of the greatest medical innovations of the 20th century- what women hear instead are the rare reports of tragic errors or oversights in diagnosis which led to unacceptable outcomes in the affected patients. This creates confusion and fear in the patients who can benefit most from Pap smears, and who should be able to trust and rely upon the results. Dr. Donnica Moore discusses what a Pap smear is; who should have one and how often; what the new cervical screening technologies are; and whether you should request them either instead of or in addition to your annual Pap.
In 1997, a Gallup survey commissioned by the College of American Pathologists found that although nearly 9 out of 10 women surveyed knew they should have a Pap test every year, nearly 4 out of 10 of these women failed to do so in the previous year. Why? One in 4 of these women said they didn’t have their Pap smears because they “didn’t have the time”. Other reasons given include the belief that they were too old, felt embarrassed, were afraid of the results, thought they didn’t need it, or thought it was “too expensive”. While these considerations are important for women, they should be minor compared to taking a simple, painless test which has saved millions of lives- one of which could be yours.
The figures for minority women are more concerning: according to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), one out of every 3 Hispanic women reported that they did not get a Pap test in the preceding three years, compared with one in every 4 American women in general. Of even more concern, the rate of death for African American women from cervical cancer is nearly twice that of Caucasian women.
If you are overdue for your Pap smear, take a break from reading this article right now and call your doctor to schedule it– then come back to finish reading this article!
What is a Pap Smear and How is it Done?
A Pap smear is a simple test done during a woman’s internal (pelvic) exam. Her health care provider performs a vaginal exam with a speculum (a tool to visualize the cervix), and uses a cotton swab, small brush, or small wooden spatula to painlessly scrape a cell sample from the inside and then the outside of the cervix (the tip of the uterus). If you can feel anything, it feels most like rubbing the back of your hand with your finger. These cells are then spread on a slide, sprayed with a fixative, and sent to a lab where the slides are screened for abnormalities by a cytotechnologist (trained technician) and reviewed by a cytopathologist (medical doctor) if necessary. The results are then communicated back to the health care provider who is responsible for communicating the results to the patient.
Who Needs a Pap Smear and When?
While most doctors still recommend that all women over the age of 18 have annual Pap smears with their pelvic exams, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has issued new, evidence-based practice guidelines regarding Pap smear frequency (7/03). ACOG notes that while some women need more frequent screening, an increasing number of women no longer need annual cervical cancer screening. They have also noted that cervical cancer screening can often begin later than previously recommended. This is somewhat misleading, however, because most women associate their annual Pap smear with their annual internal, pelvic exam. ACOG cautions that annual pelvic examinations are still advised for all women over age 21.
ACOG’s new recommendations are based in part on newly available screening tests as well as a new appreciation for the pathology and evolution of cervical cancer.