Advice for preparation for the cervical smear test:
1. You are advised not to have had sexual intercourse prior to the smear as sperm lubricants and spermicidal creams may alter the results.
2. Do not use menopause vaginal oestrogen creams or pessaries prior to the test. If you are using either of these inform the practitioner who is doing the procedure.
3. If you have had pessary treatment for a vaginal infection like Thrush it is advised to wait for a week before having your smear taken.
4. Do not use a tampons for the week before the test
The procedure for the cervical smear test:
The test itself is more of a slight discomfort and to some ladies an embarrassment, but it is a life saver. The test will be undertaken by either a nurse or doctor.
1. You will be asked to undress below the waist if you are wearing a skirt this can be lifted up.
2. You will be asked to lie back on an examination table and given a blanket or sheet to cover your lower body
3. You will be asked to draw you knees up and place your heels together and let you legs relax apart
4. A speculum will be then placed in the entrance to the vagina and then moved inside the vagina this can feel unusual.
5. The speculum is opened up which gives the practitioner a good view of the cervix, this may feel uncomfortable but should not hurt.
6. The practitioner will then use a thin spatula or a tiny brush to remove a few cells from the cervix which will be placed on a slide or in the tube (LBC- liquid based cytology.)
7. The speculum will be removed and the test is complete the slide/LBC will be examined under a microscope in the laboratory and the results will be sent to you.
All women should receive written confirmation of the results of their smear test within six weeks if you do not receive written confirmation of your results it is advisable to contact your surgery.
If abnormal cells are found you will be informed and an appointment with a gynaecologist will be made, or your smear test repeated; with the new LBC testing this should reduce the need for retests. Abnormal cells can return to a normal appearance but if untreated may develop into cancer. The gynaecologist will examine your cervix more closely and as a result of their findings will discuss with you the options available. Early treatment has prevented hundreds of deaths in this country.
A study, commissioned by the World Health Organization and published in The Lancet in 2003 suggested that a woman's risk of cervical cancer can be increased if she uses the contraceptive pill, for extended periods of time. The studies indicated that using the pill for over ten years doubles the chances of cervical cancer.