A few days ago, I went for my cervical cancer screening and I’ve decided to talk about it and share my experience with you so you know why it’s crucial to prioritize your cervical health, don’t worry if you’re new to this concept—I’m here to guide you through it all in a fun way. So, grab a cup of tea, or a glass of wine, relax, and let’s dive into the world of cervical cancer screening.

What is Cervical Cancer?

Picture this: your cervix is like the gatekeeper to your womb, and it’s super important to keep it healthy. Cervical cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably in the cervix, the lower part of the uterus. Most cases are caused by a common virus called human papillomavirus (HPV). While HPV is incredibly common, not all infections lead to cervical cancer. But hey, don’t panic! Cervical cancer is highly preventable and treatable when detected early through regular screening.

What is Cervical Cancer Screening?

Imagine having the power to identify a potential threat before it poses a significant danger. That’s precisely what cervical cancer screening does. Cervical cancer screening is a proactive way to detect any abnormal changes in the cells of your cervix before they become cancerous. By undergoing regular screenings, you increase your chances of catching any potential issues early on, which significantly improves the chances of successful treatment.

Screening Methods

When it comes to cervical cancer screening, two primary methods take the spotlight: the Pap test and the HPV test.

The Pap test, or Pap smear

This method involves a healthcare provider who will perform the gynecological examination and collect a sample of cells from your cervix. This sample is then sent to a laboratory for detailed analysis and evaluation. This test helps identify any abnormal cell changes that may indicate precancerous conditions or early-stage cancer. This was what I did.

The HPV test

On the other hand, detects the presence of high-risk strains of HPV (human papillomavirus) known to cause cervical cancer. By getting vaccinated, you can protect yourself from several types of HPV that lead to cervical cancer. This test is often used in conjunction with the Pap test, particularly for women over 30, to provide a more comprehensive evaluation.

When to Start Screening:

It’s important to know when you should begin cervical cancer screening. In general, it’s recommended to start screening at the age of 21, regardless of sexual activity. But make sure to consult with your healthcare provider about the best age to begin screening, as it may vary based on personal factors. Regular screening intervals will be recommended based on your age and previous test results.

The frequency of cervical cancer screenings may depend on various factors, including age, previous test results, and medical history. In most cases, women between 21 and 65 years old should aim for regular screenings every three to five years. However, individual situations may call for more frequent testing. Remember, your healthcare provider is your best resource for determining the optimal screening schedule for you.

My Cervical cancer screening experience

I got a message encouraging me to register for screening and I was going to but I forgot, when I went to the hospital for blood tests I remembered and booked an appointment. I was asked if I was requested to and she checked to confirm before booking the test.

On my appointment day, I wore a long comfortable dress and panties, she asked if I have ever done a pap smear before and I had not but I had an IUD about 2,3 years back and she told me that it was similar but not as painful. After doing the blood collection (for something different) I was asked to remove my underwear, lay on the bed, and raise both my legs and she told me to take deep breaths. I think she used lube on the speculum and then inserted the speculum (this helps them widen the vaginal walls to better access your cervix). To collect a sample of cells from the cervix, a gentle brush and a flat scraping device known as a spatula are used, these cells are then placed in a preservation solution inside a bottle, ensuring their integrity during transportation and analysis. In about 1 minute or two, she was done. I was told to expect results in 4-6 weeks.

Picture of a speculum

I get that this sounds intimidating or scary but it was a simple, painless experience for me, also randomly talking to my healthcare provider made me more comfortable. Cervical cancer screening is not just a routine medical appointment; it’s an act of self-care and empowerment. By prioritizing your health and scheduling regular screenings, you’re taking an active role in preventing and detecting cervical cancer early on. Remember, knowledge is power, and staying informed about your health status allows you to make informed decisions and seek appropriate care when needed.

So, don’t hesitate—reach out to your healthcare provider and schedule that much-needed screening. Remember, your health matters, and investing in prevention is always worth it.

Alright, ladies, we’ve covered the ins and outs of cervical cancer screening. Remember, it’s not something to fear but rather an opportunity to take control of your health. With regular screenings, the HPV vaccine, and a little bit of knowledge, you’re on the path to being the superhero of your own cervical health story. So, let’s raise awareness, spread the word, and encourage every woman to prioritize cervical cancer screening. You’ve got this, ladies!

Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult with your healthcare provider for personalized guidance.

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By Olotu Funke

Olotu Funke is a baddie keen on existing fully, documenting her journey with Skin Positivity, Mental Health, Personal Style, and the Life in between.

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