Pap Smear Test And Virginity: What You Need To Know
The pap smear test is something that can save lives. Still, many hesitate to take it due to misconceptions and social pressure. Pap smear testing as a process might seem intimidating or disgusting, but it is an important part of gynaecology. Read on to discover more about the pap smear test, its significance, and why women should be encouraged to do it.
What is a pap smear test?
A pap smear test or a pap test is a procedure done to check for the presence of cervical cancer. This test also helps detect abnormal cells or dysplasia that might be precancerous in nature. Its therapy aids in the prevention of cervical cancer. Also, a pap smear test helps in the early detection of cervical cancer. Cancer has a higher survival rate when discovered at an early stage.
How is a pap smear test done?
The cervix is the uterus’s lower end, forming a canal between the uterus and the vagina. During a pap smear test, the cells from the cervix are scraped and checked for the presence of abnormal cell growth, including cancer.
The way it works;
- The patient is asked to lie on her back with her legs spread wide enough.
- The doctor then inserts a device that keeps the vagina open and provides access to the cervix.
- The doctor uses a spatula, a brush, or a cytobrush to scrape the sample of cells.
- The sample is subsequently sent to a lab for analysis.
Does the pap smear test hurt?
The procedure might feel uncomfortable, but it is a quick procedure where the doctor scrapes cells from the cervix for a lab examination. Women might feel a slight push in the cervical area, but it won’t hurt.
If they feel pain, it is imperative that they communicate the same with the doctor to avoid further issues.
What do pap smear test results suggest?
A pap smear test leads to two results;
- Normal: If the results say “normal,” then it suggests no abnormal cells in the cervix.
- Abnormal: If the results say abnormal, then there are abnormal cells in the cervix. However, it is crucial to note that an “abnormal result” does not imply that the woman has cervical cancer. However, she may have precancerous cells that must be treated to prevent possible malignancy.
Is the pap smear test the same as HPV test?
A pap smear test is entirely different from an HPV test.
HPV test is meant to detect the human papillomavirus or HPV, a common sexually transmitted infection (STI). Human papillomavirus infection increases the risk of cervical cancer and must be treated.
A pap smear test detects the presence of abnormal cells in the cervix, including cancer. However, both these tests come under cervical cancer screening.
Also read: First cancer close to eradication: How HPV vaccine kills Cervical cancer
Who should undergo a pap smear test? Should virgins take pap smear tests?
Cervical cancer is usually considered a young woman’s disease, with about 85% of cases occurring below 65 years of age. Therefore, women between 21-65 years are recommended to undergo a pap smear test, preferably every 3-5 years.
In addition, those concerned about their immunity, sexual health, suspected presence of precancerous conditions, known or possible HIV/HPV infection, history of smoking, and exposure to medications like DES may get themselves tested for cervical cancer.
Virgins above 35 years may undergo a pap smear test as a routine screening as per the current recommendation. Women of the susceptible age group (21 to 65 years) who don’t lead active sexual life may also undergo pap smear tests if they are harbouring the concerns mentioned above.
The emergence of cervical cancer may not necessarily be linked to a person’s sexual practice, although the sexually acquired HPV infection increases the risk of cervical cancer manifold
Does a pap smear test compromise virginity?
It is important to know that virginity is a social or religious concept, not a medical concept. The main reason why most women don’t go through a pap smear test is due to the virginity issue because it is associated with the presence of a hymen, a thin elastic layer that covers the vagina. Therefore, most women are concerned about whether a pap smear test breaks the hymen.
In addition to that, the hymen itself need not indicate virginity. Some women are born without a hymen. The hymen’s shape, size, and flexibility vary from person to person.
It can break for other reasons, such as a sudden fall or activities like horse riding, cycling, and gymnastics. However, it is also possible that the hymen won’t break during the first penetrative sexual intercourse if there is enough lubrication.
Still, if people have concerns, they can talk to a gynaecologist before undergoing the procedure. The hymen need not break if the doctor uses the device gently.
People should prioritise their health and do the necessary screening and testing for non-communicable diseases like cancer. Early screening and detection of cancer ensure a 92-100% chance of survival.
How can CancerMitr help?
CancerMitr is the finest friend a cancer patient could have. Along the journey from discovery to recovery, we are available as a helping hand or a shoulder to lean on. We provide a variety of cancer screening and testing packages, including a pap smear test to detect the presence of abnormal cells. Check out our website for various packages on testing and screening.