Ladies, there is something you need to do every year and it’s not a spa day. It’s a Pap test.
Pap tests – more formally known as Papanicolaou test – screen for cervical cancer and can detect precancerous and cancerous cells in the cervix.
While it is being done, you can be screened for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and it’s also a great time to have a breast exam performed to detect breast cancer.
In New Brunswick, it is required that Pap tests be done three years after your first experience of sexual activity, or once you are 21 years old, whichever one happens last. The guideline was only changed in 2011, which used to recommend a Pap test once you become sexually active or 18 years old.
According to the New Brunswick Cancer Network, sexual activity includes “intercourse as well as digital or oral sexual activity involving the genital area with a partner of either gender”.
Once you have had negative Pap tests three consecutive times – once a year, and having clean tests 3 years in a row – it is recommended to go every two to three years.
Before getting a Pap test, it is highly recommended not to have sexual intercourse 24 hours beforehand, douche or use spermicides or vaginal medications 48 hours before. This is due to the fact that these substances could hide abnormal cells or wash them away.
Another thing to keep in mind is Pap tests cannot be done when you are on your menstrual cycle, so be sure to make an appointment that doesn’t coincide with that time of the month.
To know how Pap tests are performed go Cancer.ca, click “cancer information,” “tests and procedures” and then click on “Pap test,” or talk to your doctor.
You can make an appointment at the UNB Health Centre by their website on Unb.ca or by phone, 453-4837.
Pap tests are the best way to prevent cervical cancer. In order for you to take care of your body 100 per cent, Pap tests are essential. So call your doctor and make an appointment today!