For any woman fearing the Pap Smear

Pap smear

For any woman who is afraid of getting poked and prodded, it contributes to an irrational fear of her gynecologist. Especially one of which there is a strange doctor poking something into a private area of the body. I can attest that I have survived my gynecologist and the dreaded pap smear. I’ll attmept to explain the procedure and its benefits in as tasteful a manner as possible. Papanicolaou test is administered to detect the premalignant and malignant processes in the ecocervix. The test itself gathers cells from the cervix at the end of the uterus. It’s effective in its means of detecting precancerous or cancerous cells. For women who are sexually active, you should regularly see a gynecologist for a pap smear at least annually. It’s called “pap smear” because it’s an abbreviation of the name of the guy who invited it (Georgios Papanikolaou) and because they have to smear the cells on a microscopic slide to examine it.

You should not go in for a pap smear while you are menstruating. They say the best time to go for the examination is from 10 to 20 days after your cycle is off. You can, however, go for an examination while pregnant. Because you want the doctor to find any cancerous cells you should avoid douching or vaginal creams. Stationed on your back as if giving birth, first the doctor exams your outer genitals and rectal areas. A speculum is inserted into the vaginal canal allowing the doctor to view the cervix. After mucus is cleared away, a cervical brush is inserted and twirled around to collect the endocervical cells and a second sample is taken of the ectocervical cells. Afterward you receive the bimanual pelvic exam where two fingers are inserted to the vagina and the other hand is used to examine the ovaries and uterus. Now for the million dollar question – does it hurt? No, it’s quick and relatively painless. It’s not like you won’t feel something with someone cranking you up like an old car. I had a female gynecologist, but some women feel more comfortable with a male doctor – to each, her own. It’s not as unpleasant as it sounds, and it’s over before you know it. It may seem like a violation, but it’s essential and could potentially save your life.

Comments 48 comments

SarahJ 2 years ago

A great website with lots of information about how unethical, unreliable and harmful Pap smears are - www.forwomenseyesonly.com


bellniniold 3 years ago

I accustomed to find on top of living although of late We've built up any opposition.


Sandra 3 years ago

There is a very informative blog with thousands comments about the truth behind pap smears. Very educating and eye-opening.

http://blogcritics.org/culture/article/unnecessary...


xprofilejobs 4 years ago

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PO'd 4 years ago

In reply to karyn.au's comment comparing pelvic exams to rape:

Thank you for sharing your logic. I couldn't agree with you more. Every woman who is pressured against her wishes into a pelvic exam that involves digital/object penetration of her vagina is being raped. It makes me angry to think of how many millions of women/girls are raped every time they go the the doctor's office. If you cannot visit a dr. for an illness unrelated to gynecology without having to be put through a pelvic exam there is something wrong with the system! Women should not be pressured into stripping and having their vagina's probed at every opportunity! Sore throat - strip and spread your legs. Sprained ankle - strip and spread your legs. Suspicious mole on your back - strip and spread your legs, let me see your vagina, let me put fingers in your vagina, let me shine a bright light on your vagina, let me spread your vagina open. I have begun to view dr's as opportunistic rapists. I have simply stopped going to the doctor and I have never felt better!


ButWaitThere'sMore 4 years ago

Recently there has been a push to test for Sexually Transmitted Diseases. All STD's can be tested via blood test and urine. Do not feel pressured to have a pelvic exam unless you want one. If you have no abnormal discharge, pain, itching, redness, swelling, etc. then there is no reason to be examined (or even if you do have symptoms the blood/urine test will reveal the source). Men are not required to provide vaginal swabs :) - just blood and urine for the exact same tests. So remember ladies - you have the right to refuse the pelvic exam portion of the STD testing! Your practitioner does not have the right to pressure you into one. If there is an issue take the practitioner's name and leave. You then have grounds to complain to the College of Physicians and Surgeons.


karyn.au 4 years ago

Just follow the logic:

Insertion of any object into women's vagina when she doesn't want it - called RAPE. Therefore, performing a pap smear on unwilling women is a rape.

Any medical practitioner, or any other person, who is pressuring a woman to do a pap smear is committing a coercion for rape.

Any misleading information about pap smear, which is used by such person in order to push the woman into the pap smear, is a tool for coercion for rape.

They can call it "screening", "life saving test", "necessary exam" - any way they like. The fact is that if a pap smear is imposed on a woman or if any misleading information is used, IT IS A RAPE.

Simple as that.


fuckthepapsmearidontcareifidie 4 years ago

that would be so funny if someone went in while they were having a period lmao it's just made up so a perverted guy could check vaginas out


Judy 4 years ago

I feel like the comments here are way more valuable than the article itself.

Thanks for pointing out the article about lead time bias http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lead_time_bias in the comments. It explains very well that cancer screening may actually not "catch" or "prevent" anything, just increase the time of anxiety and suffering.


Ruby 4 years ago

In Australia, doctors are paid extra for pushing women into pap smears. It is called Service Incentive Payment (SIP-cervical) and comes under Medicare Benefits Schedule (items 2497, 2501, 2503, 2504, 2506, 2507, 2509, 2598, 2600, 2603, 2606, 2610, 2613, 2616, 10995 and 10999). In other words, Australian government uses taxpayers' money for coercing women to have pap smears. Of course doctors are going to say that we need the stupid pap smears! It means more money for doctors. It's that simple!


elf 4 years ago

i feel pap test violate women. i can't stand speculums. just seeing the freaks me out. its not worth the anxiety trying to have the test causes me. why can't they do a trans vaginal ultra sound, its violating.


confused 4 years ago

Incidence of cervical cancer in Canada is 7 in 100,000. I'm not a mathematician, but I believe that is .00007%. Not certain why there is so much pressure to have a pap smear.


Enoughalready 4 years ago

A pelvic exam feels like rape. I have never gone to a physician for the purpose of a pelvic exam. Rather, I am pressured into having one. So, against my wishes I am made to strip, spread my legs, endure a light shining on my most intimate parts, submit to digital penetration followed by cold metal that spreads my vagina open, and then hold still for scraping, poking and prodding.

If this is not abusive enough, I have had one physician who did not provide a gown or any type of covering but left me completely naked during the exam. A different physician years later inserted a finger and asked me to "squeeze his finger". Then when the speculum was inserted and dilated I felt something repeatedly touching the walls of my vagina and I suspected he was inserting his penis.

In addition to putting women at risk of further sexual abuse and humiliation, the rush to get our vaginas is taking away any kind of holistic health care. Every physician I have gone to does not seem at all concerned with my general health. It's all about laying back, spreading my legs, and closing my mouth.


Olley 4 years ago

If one reads about lead time bias (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lead_time_bias), they will quickly realise that screenings don't help us live longer, they just leave with the illnesses for longer and make money for medical systems.


Amelia 4 years ago

Every time I go to doctors they make me feel like my body consists of the cervix alone. In Australia, at least. My last visit, for instance, was because I injured my ankle very badly. And guess what? I didn't get any x-ray or other help for the ankle, but the idiot-doctor did not forget to ask me when my last pap smear was. I replied that it was irrelevant for the injured ankle. Then he insisted that I must have a pap smear if my last one was more than 2 years ago! I know I will never go to that doctor again, but, sadly, the next one will be just as cervix-focused as all the others.

So ladies, according to Australian medical system, we are just cervixes, and there are cervical cancers in each cervix that doe not submit to regular pap smears. And, as we get older, we will also grow breasts, otherwise how the same doctors will pester us about mammograms?


Eliza 4 years ago

Thank you for the article and for the very useful and comforting comments! The recommended page http://www.annystudio.com/misc/better-health-care/ is also wonderful source of awakening information!

Good luck to you all girls. Stay healthy and stay away from doctors.


Elisa 4 years ago

Thank you for the article and for the very useful and comforting comments! The recommended page www.annystudio.com/misc/better-health-care/ is also wonderful source of awakening information!

Good luck to you all girls. Stay healthy and stay away from dictators.


Kay 4 years ago

With all this pap-smear imposition and cervix cancer hysteria, the situation started to look like there are no other diseases or problems left in the world. The modern medicine doesn't have a cure for any cancer, so it tries to trap us into a whirlpool of the only thing it can do with cancer - screening, screening, screening.

Screening is not going to cure anyone, and in most cases it is just unnecessary invasion of people's privacy (when screening results are kept in registers databases, like in Australia) and violation of their bodily autonomy. Medical establishment likes to attribute life saving to their screening programs and early detection, but in fact it is just juggling with skewed interpretation of 5-year survival rates and medical statistics.

The truth is that nearly everyone beyond 50 has some cancer somewhere in their body, but most people live with it happily without knowing and eventually die of something else. The majority of people die with cancer, not of cancer.

A simple example:

A person doesn't screen and ends up being diagnosed with an advanced cancer at the age of 70, lives with the cancer another year and dies at the age of 71. The doctors will point at that "bad" example and say that the person should've been screening.

Then there is another person, who lives their life from one doctor appointment to another and does all the screening. And one of the screenings detects an early cancer at the age of 50. The doctor-to-doctor life of that person becomes even worse. Now they live from surgery to more tests, then from tests to chemotherapy, back to surgery, and all goes round again... The cancer cannot be cured: once our body lost immune vigilance and allowed one cell to turn into cancerous, it means that even if that cell is surgically removed, the immune guard of our body is still faulty and it will allow another cell to become cancerous in the future. The painful cancer treatment may slow down the growth of the primary tumour, bur it weakens the body and causes the next "mistake" happen elsewhere even sooner.

So the second example person manages to struggle through therapy for 21 year and dies at 71.

Now the doctors will celebrate by saying: look, early detection let the second person live 21 years instead of just 1! But they will omit the fact that both people ended up dying at the same age. And, of course, the doctors will never tell us that the person who didn't screen lived a happy life for 70 years before they found the advanced cancer, while the second person never felt happy and healthy with going from one routine screening to another, and that the last 20 years of life were consumed by painful treatment. And, lastly, doctors would definitely prefer someone who will be paying them for treatment for 21 years instead of just 1.

Do your maths, use your logic.

Earlier detection (of the test doesn't show incorrect result) very often means earlier finish of happy life, not longer life or happier life. And, of course, it means more money for doctors. So guess what they will advise you to do?


Kay 4 years ago

With all this pap-smear imposition and cervix cancer hysteria, the situation started to look like there are no other diseases or problems left in the world. The modern medicine doesn't have cure for any cancer, so it tries to trap us into a whirlpool of the only thing it can do with cancer - screening, screening, screening.

Screening not going to cure anyone, and in most cases it is just unnecessary invasion of people's privacy and violation of their bodily autonomy. Medical establishment likes to attribute life saving to their screening programs and early detection, but in fact it is just juggling with skewed interpretation of 5-year survival rates and medical statistics.

The truth is that nearly everyone who lives beyond 50 has some cancer, but most people live with it happily without knowing and die of something else. The majority of people die with cancer, not of cancer.

A simple example.

A person doesn't screen and ends up being diagnosed with advanced cancer at the age of 70, lives with the cancer another a year and dies at the age of 71. The doctors will point at that "bad" example and say that the person should've been screening.

Then there is another person, who lives their life from one doctor appointment to another and does all the screening. And one of the screenings detects an early cancer at the age of 50. The doctor-to-doctor life of that person becomes even worse. Now they live from surgery to more tests, then from tests to chemotherapy, back to surgery, and all goes round again... The cancer cannot be cured: one our body lost immune vigilance and allowed one cell to turn into cancerous, it means that even that cell is surgically removed, the immune guard of our body is still faulty and it will allow another cell to become cancerous in the future. The painful cancer treatment may slow the growth of the primary tumour, bur it weakens the body and causes the next "mistake" happen even sooner.

So the example person manages to struggles through therapy for 21 year and dies at the same age as the first person - 71.

Now the doctors will celebrate by saying: look, early detection let the second person live 21 years instead of 1! But they will omit the fact that both people ended up dying at the same age. And, of course, the doctors will never tell us that the person who didn't screen lived a happy life for 70 years before they found the advanced cancer, while the other one never felt happy and healthy with going from one planned screening to another, and that the last 20 years of the life were consumed by painful treatment. Then, doctors would definitely prefer someone who will be paying them for treatment for 21 years instead of just 1.

Do your maths, use your logic.

Earlier detection (of any) very often means earlier finish of happy life, not longer life of happier life. And, of course, it means more money for doctors.


Relieved 4 years ago

I have gone to many male docs who bypass all other tests (blood tests, vital signs, throat check, lung exam, etc.) and just head straight to the cervix. That's it, the only concern is my vagina. ?


Elizabeth 4 years ago

Caroline, no women MUST have pap tests, routine pelvic and breast exams or mammograms, they are options and nothing more. Never let anyone tell you otherwise, your informed consent is required for all cancer screening.

Do your own reading and make up your own mind and find a doctor who'll respect your decisions, not coerce or pressure you into testing.

Routine breast and pelvic exams are both of poor clinical value in symptom-free women and expose you to risk...they are not recommended in many countries. See: Dr Carolyn Westoff and "Is the pelvic exam obsolete?" and the Nordic Cochrane Institute also is a great source of evidence backed information...they have an excellent summary on the risks and benefits of breast screening at their website. Cervical screening benefits very few and carries fairly high risk, especially when overused and in young women. If you want to test, look at your risk profile first...and consider a foreign program that better protects you from over-detection and unnecessary biopsies and over-treatment...Finland offers 7 tests in total, 5 yearly from 30 to 60 BUT the evidence has moved on and women should demand access to hrHPV primary testing and the Delphi Screener. Only HPV positive women are at risk and have a small chance of benefiting from pap testing and that's only 5% of women over 30. Unfortunately, pap testing does not help those under 30 and HPV testing is also not recommended, young women are most likely to be infected, some say 40% may test positive, but this cancer is very rare in those under 30 and HPV usually clears in a year or so.

I'd urge you to start reading and protect your healthy body...make informed decisions.


Caroline 4 years ago

Wow...how do you guys even know all the lies and the rare canser, etc.

OK i need a little help. When i'm old enough i will have to do the pap smear... but with this new, cool info, what will i tell my Mom? I don't want her to make me get it, enither do i want the doc too. Also what about the breast examination? Is that not as good too like this test? Or is it better. Idk right now.. so well thats what i think.


EEW 4 years ago

This doctor declines pap tests, it's great that women and a handful of doctors are being honest about this testing and feeling more confident to question the value of testing and to share negative experiences. This testing was never offered to women, it has been a shameful exercise with no respect for informed consent. I couldn't agree more with this doctor.

"why I'm saying no to a smear" by Dr Margaret McCartney which appeared in the UK Independent recently...


Layla 4 years ago

Thank you girls for heaps of useful information! I've made my decision now: no more lies, paternalism and humiliation. I feel so much better now!

There is also a very good article that helped me not just with paps. It's about all health care and how the patients must be treated http://annystudio.com/misc/better-health-care/


Wendy 4 years ago

They just need to find another way to test women for cervical cancer that isn't so painful or horrifying.


Elizabeth 5 years ago

Actually the lifetime risk of cervical cancer is not 1%, it's 0.65% and no more than 0.45% of women are helped by pap tests. We'll never know for sure because incredibly the test was released without randomized controlled trials. The lifetime risk of dying from cervical cancer is 0.02%. Now compare that to the risk of referral for colposcopy after an "abnormal" test result - 77% in Australia, 95% in the States - HUGE over-detection from an intrinsically unreliable test that leads to massive over-treatment. The Health Report Parts 1 to 3 on Radio National ABC (with Norman Swan) calls the over-treatment "massive" - read the comments by leading experts in cancer screening. The information that is NOT released to women - the truth!

Other factors are also contributing to the decline - but screening authorities and doctors always dishonestly grab the credit for the screening program. The cancer was in decline before screening started - the other factors at work - less STD, better hygiene (those two are mentioned by Dr Gilbert Welch in his book, "Over-diagnosed") better condoms and more condom use after the AIDS scare, more hysterectomies, fewer women smoking, women having fewer children and when they're older...and other unknown factors are at work.

Please, do your reading before agreeing to any cancer screening test. You won't get complete and honest information from the Govt which needs to "feed" its expensive screening machine or from doctors who are rewarded financially for testing and in Australia and NZ actually get bonuses for achieving targets for pap tests. These payments are undisclosed to women and place our doctors in a potential conflict of interest situation. The UK changed these payments, probably because some doctors were behaving appallingly to get women screened using threats, scare tactics, coercion, extreme pressure etc...this test is elective/optional.

The facts are at Dr Joel Sherman's patient privacy website under women's privacy concerns Parts 1 to 6 - take a look at the side bar.


Ellie 6 years ago

My results were all over the place, I had years of fear and misery. It was degrading and violating too.

I got CIN 3 when I was 19, then CIN 1, 6 months later, retested because the Dr didn't trust the first result. I then got an "uncertain" result and then a normal result and then CIN 1, normal and CIN 11...crazy!

It was a nightmare and derailed my life.

I stopped it, I got bombarded by letters, but mentally and physically, I couldn't take anymore.

Pap tests didn't help me, but they took away my late teens and early 20's, they should be happy years, not years spent worrying about cancer and having things shoved up your private area all the time & painful biopsies that were also normal or uncertain.

An English Dr finally gave me the courage to call a halt to this miserable life. She said I wouldn't even be tested in her country because young women always produce weird and inaccurate results, you can get CIN 3 and a few months later, a normal result. She said testing young women put these women through hell and often left them worse off. Cervix cancer is very rare in young women, but crazy results are the norm, beware!

I wish I'd got that advice earlier and I might have enjoyed my youth a bit more and I'd have more of my cervix.

I worry about the damage they did to me over those years, but I doubt I'll have children anyway. I was put off sex and don't bother with men anymore. I had one BF when all that hell started. We always used condoms too and he had only had one prior girlfriend, who was a virgin.

I doubt I've even been infected with HPV, but I can't stomach the idea of sex again, it always means doctors and pap tests as soon as you want BC pills and I'm not going there again.

I want some life.


Ellie 6 years ago

My results were all over the place, I had years of fear and misery. It was degrading and violating too.

I got CIN 3 when I was 19, then CIN 1, 6 months later, retested because the Dr didn't trust the first result. I then got an "uncertain" result and then a normal result and then CIN 1, normal and CIN 11...crazy!

It was a nightmare and derailed my life.

I stopped it, I got bombarded by letters, but mentally and physically, I couldn't take anymore.

Pap tests didn't help me, but they took away my late teens and early 20's, they should be happy years, not years spent worrying about cancer and having things shoved up your private area all the time & painful biopsies that were also normal or uncertain.

An English Dr finally gave me the courage to call a halt to this miserable life. She said I wouldn't even be tested in her country because young women always produce weird and inaccurate results, you can get CIN 3 and a few months later, a normal result. She said testing young women put these women through hell and often left them worse off. Cervix cancer is very rare in young women, but crazy results are the norm, beware!

I wish I'd got that advice earlier and I might have enjoyed my youth a bit more and I'd have more of my cervix.

I worry about the damage they did to me over those years, but I doubt I'll have children anyway. I was put off sex and don't bother with men anymore. I had one BF when all that hell started. We always used condoms too and he had only had one prior girlfriend, who was a virgin.

I doubt I've even been infected with HPV, but I can't stomach the idea of sex again, it always means doctors and pap tests as soon as you want BC pills and I'm not going there again.

I want some life.


Sara 6 years ago

I don't have them.

I hate to listen to the lies they tell women.

They're looking for 1 woman in 10,000, yet most women think it's 1 woman in 100. Almost all women over-estimate the risk of this cancer because of all the lies. Doctors love that we've all accepted the lies. The test is intrinsically unreliable too, so very large numbers of women get biopsied when the test is wrong. An abnormal smear usually means a tampon or condom caused irritation or you have a hormonal imbalance or some other harmless thing. Biopsies are ugly, painful things and deeply humiliating. I know some poor women who've had them done, doesn't everyone?

No, I enjoy my pap-test free life.

They'll never tell you the truth about this test, they put your rights way below the rights of the 1 in 10,000.

I suppose women are still treated like objects in some areas and this is certainly one of those areas.


Loren 6 years ago

After doing my research I don't do pap smears anymore. I'm not scared of getting cervical cancer. I hated having pap smears and I think all the anxiety I used to have over them harmed my health. My blood pressure used to always be sky high when I would have a pap smear. They're degrading and I refuse to let myself feel so violated anymore. I feel so happy and free thinking about not ever subjecting myself to the discomfort and humiliation again. It was depressing.


Estelle 6 years ago

Someone, you don't need a pap test for birth control pills. The only thing required is a blood pressure test and why on earth would you want to have a test every year, that's asking for trouble.

Almost all women who test annually will get a false positive and have painful, embarrassing and harmful biopsies or treatment. The risk is sky high for no real benefit...

The best way to avoid false positives is to test 5 yearly from 30...(if you want to test)

I don't test at all, the risks are too high for such a rare cancer, I'll wait for a reliable and non-invasive test. I really don't worry about rare cancers.

While the risk of unnecessary procedures is huge and the cancer is rare, I'd never risk my health with this test.

It's up to you, but do your reading and if you don't want to test, refuse and if the Dr refuses you the Pill, contact a lawyer and/or the medical association - it is a breach of the Patient Bill of Rights. Dr's need your consent for this test, it can't legally be forced onto you. That amounts to coercion...

Ask the Dr what law or regulation requires a pap test for the Pill and watch them look uncomfortable.

I know they say the test is simple and painless, but that's a lie, many women find it deeply humiliating and very painful and some even bleed after the test.

I doubt irritating such a delicate part of our body is good for us anyway, it probably causes a lot of problems for women.

I lost trust in doctors years ago and don't trust any of the advice they give for women's health - it's all about power, control and money.


Someone 6 years ago

I just went in for my first pap smear as I am getting married soon and needed to get on birth control pills. I went in thinking it would be no big deal, as I've been told they don't hurt and I have a fairly high tolerance for pain.

It seriously felt like I was being cut or something. It was one of the most painful things I've ever been through and they weren't even able to finish the examination. The doctor said, "If you can't get through this, how will you ever be able to have sex?" Which, I had already told her I'd been active before and did NOT have any pain.

Now I have to go BACK in a few weeks for this torture AGAIN. I can't do this every year for the rest of my life. How can you find a doctor who will not make you go through this test if it causes you horrible pain?


Tina 6 years ago

I don't trust the Aussie program, heaps of women end up having surgery and laser treatment of the cervix. I know this cancer is on the rare side...it doesn't add up that after testing almost all women need their cervix treated. It is clearly a bad test.

Unless you're happy to have these surgeries and treatments, it's best to avoid testing...well that's how I feel anyway.

We don't get an honest or critical hand-out on the test anyway, my Dr doesn't even have pamphlets anymore, she assumes all women have smears or says they must but I heard recently that doctors get paid heaps of money from the government to test women and I guess telling us the risks might put us off.

Our health comes second to money.

I've also heard the Finnish system is much better and high risk women might be better off looking at that.


Sienna 6 years ago

Young women beware...pap tests cause more harm than good!

Here in Australia teenagers and early 20's women are still screened even though the evidence of enormous harm has been clear for years. There are no benefits for women under 25 so it's a futile and risky exercise.

Don't put yourself through it and end up with cervical damage and emotional problems, these biopsies are nasty.

This was in the paper last year:

http://www.smh.com.au/national/start-pap-tests-lat...

Pretty clear isn't it?

Yet now we have ads on TV calling for young women to screen and a scary campaign featuring a 21 year old woman, a rare, rare case and she had a normal pap smear 6 months before she was diagnosed so the pap test didn't help her, it might have delayed the diagnosis. Naturally they didn't mention that fact...it was all praise the pap smear nonsense once again.

This is what happens when you screen young women - every 2nd or 3rd pap is "abnormal" and these poor girls are referred...false positives...scary stuff - and the one or 2 with a real problem are missed.

The Government is about to change our program FINALLY protecting young women from harm, but astonishingly they're investing AT THIS STAGE half a million tax funded dollars on a scary campaign to get young women to do what they absolutely should not do if they value their health and their ability to have babies one day.

This is beyond negligent and irresponsible.

It's like...let's harm as many young women as possible before the change is made.

I'm sure lots of young women will get screened and end up damaged...I hope they all take legal action.

They didn't need to suffer....


Elizabeth 6 years ago

Lisa,

Here is the article by NCI

http://www.screening.dk/folder_uk.pdf

I've decided to be "breast aware" - a method devised by the late Dr Joan Austoker from Oxford University - just taking note of the look and shape of my breasts in the mirror every morning after showering (no touching).

I have never permitted clinical breast exams - there is no evidence they bring down the death rate from cancer, but they cause unnecessary biopsies and some believe biopsies are a risk factor for cancer. Sadly they remain a bad habit with some doctors who do them without thinking of the need, value or risk of the exam.

See: Hands off my chest doctor!

It seems many things in women's health go back to paternalistic practices that were never evidence based - in many cases exams are of no/little value and are much more likely to harm us (routine pelvic and rectal exams) but they persist in countries like Canada and the States.

It up to all of us to stop the harmful excess and only permit exams and tests that are evidence based and likely to help us - that is, only those exams and tests where we can provide our informed consent.


Elizabeth 6 years ago

Lisa,

Mammograms are a cancer screening test along with pap smears and neither can be "required" for anything. They are entirely a matter for you, your informed consent is required by law.

A pap smear is NOT required for a mammogram or birth control or anything else, that is an unethical and illegal try-on by your Dr.

Don't allow them to get away with that...make it clear you know your rights.

Mammograms carry risk as well as benefits - I don't have cervical or breast cancer screening - the former was easy, a very inaccurate test for a rare cancer and my personal risk profile is low...but breast cancer is common. I don't trust doctors, they tend to give us a "fashioned" version of the truth to get us to screen rather than telling us the truth.

Sure enough...don't rely on doctors. Go to the Nordic Cochrane Institute's website and search for an article called, "The risks and benefits of mammograms" - it's an unbiased assessment of the test put together because they were concerned about the lack of real information getting to women - they criticised the brochures put out by BreastScreen in the UK, Australia, NZ and the States.

I decided not to have mammograms either.

It disgusts me that women can be treated like children, told half-truths and manipulated and coerced into screening.

Blogcritics and Unnecessary pap smears is a great thread full of women concerned about cancer screening, many have been harmed...all concerned about the lack of respect for informed consent, the concealment of risk information and the unethical tactics and conduct of doctors.

Dr Joel Sherman's medical privacy blog under women's privacy issues is another site seeking to inform women of the "real" benefits and risk - there are many articles there on mammograms.

Read anything by Professor Michael Baum, UK breast cancer surgeon, he was involved in screening but now believes screening should be stopped and the evidence reviewed, too many women are being harmed and too few helped.

It's shocking to think any Dr would try to coerce a woman into a pap smear to have a mammogram - highly unethical. I'd report him/her to the Medical Board, but I'd speak to the Dr first - most back down once they realise they're dealing with an informed woman.


Lisa 6 years ago

Thank you for all the information. Glad to know I am not alone on my feelings. You mentioned about how Pap smears are required for Pills but I am finding that they are required for mammograms, too. I want to get a mammogram but cannot be referred until I have a pap smear. Is there anyway around this? I don't think that's right.


Lisa 6 years ago

If you look at hystersisters and cervical cancer support forums, you'll read tragic story after tragic story of women terrified after yet another procedure after a false positive...they just sound puzzled and say the path was normal. They have no idea false positives and excess treatments are extremely common and cervix cancer very rare. Some are even virgins who have no chance of benefiting from smears and expose themselves to risk for no point at all.

I feel sorry that most women live this sad live with their legs in stirrups having bits of their cervix "treated" or cut out to cover a top risk from cancer of 1%. Many have a risk lower than that...many are low or no risk and have no chance of benefiting from smears.

It's awful what we've done to healthy women...

Instead of this cancer affecting a sad 1% of women, it now affects all women, or those who screen anyway.

I decided long ago, THIS many false positives for such a rare cancer did not sound right. I've never tested...it's hard to watch the pain, fear and damage this testing does to my friends.

My gran had never heard of cervical cancer and had never heard of anyone dying from it. A retired GP family friend saw one case in 38 years...too rare to talk about (his words) - he thinks the current testing is insane and unethical. He said any other test that caused such high excess treatment would never be allowed...

I suspect without this test we'd go back to that...no one concerned about a rare cancer. We don't fear and search for other rare cancers, do we?

Almost all of these treatments are about a bad test and not cancer. It may keep doctors in work but it's shameful to "create" a problem for all women that would only affect a tiny number.

I couldn't get the Pill as doctors use that to control women and force harmful testing schedules and other unnecessary gyn exams...I used natural methods and couldn't be happier or healthier with my in-tact cervix....something of a rarity these days!


oogiesmash profile image

oogiesmash 6 years ago from Fayetteville, AR

Thanks for the info. I hope you don't mind, I just linked this hub to one of my own, "The World's Worst Pap Smear." It's nice to know it isn't just me.


Hannah 6 years ago

The excess in the States is really very frightening.

I can understand why many women are angry and upset.

It's really medical fascism because your doctors seek to control you. I was shocked how doctors over-examine, over-test, over-treat - everything is excessive and harmful.

I got a letter from my Australian GP pointing out routine pelvic exams are NEVER recommended for any symptom-free woman and pap smears are an optional cancer screening test requiring informed consent. Breast exams are also not recommended unless there is a breast problem. My Dr only does evidence based tests and exams - ones that will benefit me and are not harmful. She respects my right to choose.

I eventually found an office of PP who'd give me Pills with a blood pressure test, their HOPE program. They do give your women a hard time and try to get them into unnecessary testing and exams, but they knew there was no hope with an Australian woman who knew it was all unnecessary and risky rubbish.

High risk women who want smears should avoid over-screening, 5 yearly from 30 is heaps. My Dr doesn't agree with or follow the Aussie program, which is excessive at 2 yearly testing from 20. Self-test kits are an option if you prefer.

I won't agree to smears as my partner and I were not sexually active before we met, my risk from this cancer is too low to worry about and any sort of testing carries risk because this test is very inaccurate. My doctor said it's wrong about 50-60% of the time.

She believes it's of small value in high risk women, but warns all of them about over-testing.


Anna 6 years ago

Take a look at an article by Richard DeMay, a pathologist, "Should we abandon pap smear testing" available online.

Only 0.65% of women benefit from smears and every woman can assess her personal risk profile YET almost all women will have an abnormal smear, colposcopy and usually some type of biopsy in her lifetime. (with annual screening) Talk about rolling out the cannons to kill a flea!

Two yearly is bad as well - 77%

I had no idea just how rare this cancer actually was and the incredibly high risks of testing.

Of course, all of this is closely guarded by the profession...men get a choice with screening for very common prostate cancer and risk information (200,000 cases a year) while women get no choice with cervical cancer screening and no risk information. (11,000 cases per year)

Why? The profession has no respect for a woman's right to choose and is happy to take advantage and treat us like third class citizens. They also use women's reliance on them for contraception and pre-natal care to take advantage...

Remember, like men, we all have a choice about cancer screening. Don't allow a Dr to accept risk on behalf of YOUR healthy body.

I couldn't care less about a risk of this cancer that's close to zero - they can keep their screening test. I'm not happy to accept the high risk of biopsies for the fun of it. Of course, all of these unnecessary treatments are lucrative business for gyn's.


Xiaomei 7 years ago

Dee, do you have any advice for others like you trying to get the pill without an exam? Would you be willing to share a sample letter?


Dee 7 years ago

I was refused the Pill many years ago.

As a low risk woman, I choose not to have pap smears. I was told by several doctors that I had to have pap smears and the Pills would be held until I agreed...

As a law student, I knew that couldn't be right. I knew informed consent was required for all cancer screening. Every person has the right to unbiased facts and then they make a decision having regard to their risk profile. To suggest women had no rights was absurd...

My lecturer drafted a letter for me and my script was immediately released...

Doctors know they can't do this, it's a try-on, don't fall for it.

If you look at the risk of this cancer, it is tiny for a low risk woman and small for a high risk woman. I have no interest in an intimate exam that so often produces false positives and sends women for very unpleasant and harmful biopsies and treatments. I'm not interested when the risk of the cancer is close to zero and the threat of over-treatment incredibly high...

No deal...

Women should not be deceived and misled - we're more likely to protect our health and make the right decision with the facts, all of them. Anything less is disrespectful and unethical.


Julia 7 years ago

You don't need pelvic or pap for birth control pills - use the HOPE plan at Planned Parenthood.

These exams have nothing to do with the safe use of the Pill - it was just a tactic to force women to have these exams and test.

US women wake up!

Routine gyn exams are NOT recommended or carried out in other countries - they ARE unnecessary in healthy women.

One Australian Dr told me they can be harmful. (anxiety, pain/discomfort, psychological problems, false positives, further unnecessary and possibly harmful testing)

I will never have another routine gyn exam.

I will take the advice of overseas doctors - our doctors don't care about our health....they are MUCH more likely to harm us with all this unnecessary testing and invasive exams.


NuttyGirl 7 years ago

No you are NOT free to decline. I was forced into pap smears to get my birth control pills. FORCED. you have free choice to get an abortion but you MUST have a pap smear to get your birth control pills (that was 25 years ago) My doctor was a female. Male doctors are more likely to not force you into a pap smear. A few weeks ago I went to a new doctor for a dog bite on my finger. I have not had a physical for 8 years and she suggested I should get one. I told her I had no desire for a pap smear and she was adament I have one. She said they are still REQUIRED for birth control plls. I told her I actually felt that abnormal invasive procedures like pap smears probably caused cell abnomalitys, greater access to the area for viruses and bacteria and actually may cause the cancer. I may be nuts but that is what my own feelings tell me. Both my sisters have had multiple false positives which then led to biopsies! which were negative.... what is the deal? My older sister was told her false positives with pap smears were caused by condoms... There is a lot they do not know. Why in the world are they sooooo pap smear happy? Big Money maker I guess. Anyway, because I have this belief that pap smears cause cancer,, even if I am nuts, I have not had a physical for several years, because I can't find a doctor who will not do normal blood work and a regular physical without the pap smear.I quit taking birth control pills for the same reason 20 years ago.


Michaela 7 years ago

You missed a very important point - women are free to decline any and all exams - we don't have to submit if we decide otherwise...

I think it's disgraceful that women are given virtually no risk information for cervical screening and mammograms - we're brainwashed into thinking these tests are beneficial for every woman with no risks - INCORRECT....

Women are not able to provide informed consent for pap smears because risk information is withheld, we're pressured and frightened into them or they're "required" to get birth control pills.

This is IMO disrespectful to women and an abuse of our rights.

We should be entitled to consider risks v benefits and our individual risk profile.

Our decision should then be respected and accepted...

Women need to do their own reading - I did 30 years ago and declined pap smears. It was an easy decision - the risks far outweighed the benefits...my Dr dropped the hysterics when it became clear I'd done my homework!

Over the years I've seen many women harmed by this unreliable test....some left with permanent damage to the cervix and traumatized by false positives and colposcopies/biopsies.

Cervical cancer is uncommon and the smear is an unreliable test which means lots of false positives and some false negatives. The lifetime risk of colposcopy and biopsies (very unpleasant procedures) is almost 78% when women have 2 yearly screening, yet only a tiny number will have malignancy. (L. Koutsky, CancerPrevention Fall 2004 Issue 4)

In an unscreened population, 1.58% of women will get cervical cancer...

Ground shaking statistics have been released by Dr Angela Raffles (cancer screening expert) to show that 1000 women have to be screened for 35 years to save one woman from cervical cancer. Her research is available on line...

This is about power, control and making lots of money by lying to and frightening women and women are being harmed - I know women who live in fear of the next pap smear - they hate the procedure and fear the results and their own bodies.

The evidence against mammograms is also bad - false positives and follow-up incl surgery. New research suggests that regular mammograms may INCREASE your chance of getting breast cancer - they suspect the bruising of the tissue.

Also, the discovery of Ductal Carcinoma In Situ...a slow growing cancer that rarely bothers a woman - many older women have some DCIS - once biopsied though, it can become aggressive and once found, the breast usually comes off (doctors fear litigation so err on the safe side) I urge all women to read screening wars by Professor Michael Baum - a top UK breast cancer surgeon who has been brave enough to take on the powerful screening lobby and tell women the truth about cervical and breast screening.

It's so important to make informed decisions about your health - stay in control...

There is also lots of evidence to show routine pelvic and rectal exams are unnecessary in asymptomatic women and in fact, can be harmful. Women should never be pressured into these exams, it should be her choice...

Likewise breast exams in young asymptomatic women are unnecessary - breast cancer is rare in young women, yet doctors routinely examine the breasts of young women. Why?

Prostate cancer is rare in young males - we don't see men having routine rectal exams in their youth...

The only exam required for the Pill is a blood pressure check - to require women to submit to full and invasive exams to get the Pill is disgraceful - cancer screening has nothing to do with birth control and a pregnancy has more risk than the threat of an uncommon cancer in any woman (let alone a young one)...

I think it's disappoiting that women are treated with such great disrespect - almost a system of abuse - it seems our dignity and health is irrelevant.

I don't live in fear - I've made informed decisions about my health...I know the facts and don't listen to the scare campaigns.

Did you also know that GP's in the UK and Australia receive financial incentives to pressure/recruit women into cervical screening - it's opportunistic screening so if a woman goes to the Dr for a cold, she's hassled about a pap smear - this practice is unethical - it deters GP's from providing risk information and gives the woman no opportunity to consider whether she wants the test...

In the UK the screening lobby have just been forced to release risk information and post it to every woman in the UK...after a brave woman stood up and exposed them....the hidden risks that can harm....

Also, there is a simple blood test which is almost 100% accurate that tests for cervical cancer - it's called the CSA Test (cervical specific antigen) and was patented about 4 years ago in the States. Women should demand access asap - write to your politicians and womens action groups. There are many vested interests in the lucrative business of cervical cancer screening that will not give up their market and control easily...

You'll find information on line at the Cervuis and Onconix websites.

It's also a huge source of sadness that this disgraceful stuff continues when so many doctors are now female.

Making a stand is the only way to force change....

Knowledge is indeed power - good luck everyone!


Bailey Michele profile image

Bailey Michele 8 years ago from KANSAS

Great information! I would like to add that for me, a pap is slightly painful. After enduring it for a few years, I finally mentioned to my gyno that it hurt while the septum was spread. He advised that I should relax my pelvic muscles and actually sort of of push rather than clinching up, which made a big difference. He also made not in his file and from then on always removed the septum as soon as he took the swab rather than leaving it in place while he placed the swap on the slid. So I guess the best advice I can add is don't be afraid to talk to your doctor!


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LatestDud 8 years ago from Gold Coast (Queensland, Australia)

Fantastic information! Feeling more comfortable about it already! Thank you!

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