Cervical cancer is common in women. It is one of the easiest cancers to find and treat in its early stages.
Before a woman gets cervical cancer, the cells in her cervix begin to change. A woman cannot see or feel these changes. Only a Pap test can show these changes in the cells of the cervix.
What can increase my risk of getting cerivcal cancer?
- Having sex early (Before age 20).
- Having more than one sexual partner.
- Having a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
- Having sex with someone who has an STD.
What is a Pap test and why do I need one?
A Pap test will find unhealthy cells on or in the cervix. Having a routine Pap test can find cancer early.
You should contact your health provider if you have:
- Spots of blood after sex.
- Bleeding between periods.
- Having a colored or bad smelling discharge or leakage from the vagina.
- Feeling pain in the pelvis or bleeding from the rectum.
What can decrease my risk of getting cervical cancer?
- Regular pelvic exams and Pap tests.
- Using a latex condom and spermicides during sex to protect from STDs.
- Limit the number of sexual partners.
- Do not smoke.
Preparation for the Pap test.
- Schedule the test for two weeks after your period.
- Do not douche or use tampons, vaginal creams, foams or lubricants for 1 to 2 days before the test. These items can wash away or hide abnormal cells. Douching should never be done anyway, unless prescribed by your physician as a treatment.
- Do not have sex for 1-2 days before the test.
When do I need to have a Pap test?
A woman should have her first pelvic examination and Pap test by age 21, or when she begins to have sex, whichever comes first. A pelvic exam should be done annually and a Pap test should be done every three years.