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Women - It's Time To Take Responsibility for Ourselves

Updated on May 6, 2016
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Jacqui is a RCompN in New Zealand, with 15+yrs experience. She writes on a number of health topics that she has experience in.

Cervical Cancer Awareness


We look after everyone else, it's time to start looking after ourselves!

As women, we tend to look after others before we look after ourselves - our family, our children, our friends, our workmates, the pets, the children's pets, work issues, the bills, cleaning, paying the bills, feeding and clothing our families etc etc! Yet, we always put ourselves last. Talk to any woman who has struggled to pay the bills - forgoing food so her children can eat - and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Yet, at some point, we need to take some time to look after ourselves, as without us, everyone else will apparently fall over! It's not a coincidence that the Nursing profession (a caring profession) is predominantly female orientated - though in saying that male nurses are awesome too!. It's no coincidence that Early Childhood Education teachers are often female, or teachers. All jobs that mean we are putting others before ourselves.

It's time, ladies!

Today, and for a few more hubs, I'm going to be talking about what I know - Cervical Screening. I'm happy to answer any questions about what I have written, and welcome all!

Disclaimer:I am NOT a Doctor. I am a health professional, however, all information/suggestions are only that.

Cervical Screening - Pap Smears - Cervical Smear

In many countries, there is a Cervical Screening Programme in place for women between certain ages. These ages have come from careful planning and research within governments, health professionals, and science. The reason that these ages differ from country to country due to needs, resources, and prevalence.

For example, it is unethical to provide a screening service for Cervical Changes/Cancer if your country does not have the resources to treat any changes/cancers that are found. So for some countries it's a case of need in a particular population group - for example Cervical screening is reported to start at 25yrs of age in England, yet is 20yrs of age in New Zealand, most likely because of need, resources, ethics, and rates of Cervical Cancer.

New Zealand has the distinction of being the only country in the world (at present) that has Cervical Screening written into it's legislation. Most other countries either do not have screening, or their screening is not legislated - does not have to be offered. This has come about due to the Cartwright Enquiry - of which you can read more in the links offered later.

What is it?

A cervical smear is a simple procedure. It is recommended to women who have had sexual intercourse, once they turn a certain age (NZ = 20yrs, England = 25yrs etc).

You usually make an appointment with your General Practioners nurse, or your GP. The best time is about 2 weeks after your period has finished. You will be asked some questions around your gynaecological history - how many children, how many pregnancies, any unusual bleeding (post-coital, inter-menstrual, post-menopausal), your last period date, some places may ask about family violence (NZ - we do), and a few other questions - your current relationship etc. They should also explain what they will be doing, and offer you STI swabs should you wish to have them done at the same time

Then you will be asked to get changed into either a gown, or given a sheet to cover your lower half. Often you will be given a curtain to change behind, some times there is a room for you. You will then be asked to hop onto the bed, and either lie down on your back with your feet together, or your left side with your knees drawn up (Left Lateral).

The nurse/dr SHOULD explain to you as they are doing anything, giving you warning before they touch you, tell you where they will be touching you, and when they are inserting the speculum into your vagina.



And then?

After finding your cervix - the small bumpy looking thing at the internal end of the speculum in the picture - which is actually the neck of your uterus, the nurse/doctor will take either a brush or spatula designed solely for the purpose of smears and brush this around on your cervix - there is usually a tip that gently goes inside the little hole in your cervix, or sometimes a very soft brush.

In different countries, there is Liquid Based Cytology where these brushes are 'swished' in, or cut into (cutting the tip of the brush) the solution and this solution is sent to the lab. Other countries still use "conventional" smears were the cells are 'smeared' on a slide and 'fixed' to the slide with a special spray/solution to aid in preserving the cells until they get to the lab.

Then, the nurse/gp will gently remove the speculum, and IT's ALL OVER!

Not too hard huh?

But I'm a lesbian, do I need one?

Yes. Usually. If you, or your partner, has EVER had sex with a man - then, yes, you do.

The only women who do not need a smear are those who have never had sex.

Tomorrow (or the next day) The Hub will cover the issues of: What do my results mean? What now? What causes cervical changes.

Come back for more!


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