Did you stop having regular cervical screening when you went through menopause? Maybe it’s because you found the test painful in the past, or you found the process uncomfortable or embarrassing. Maybe you thought you didn’t need to test anymore because you stopped being sexually active or only had one partner throughout your life. Maybe you didn’t intentionally stop, you just got busy enjoying life.
A big change to cervical screening commenced in July 2022. A self-collection option is now available to everyone who is due for their cervical screening test. Self-collection involves inserting a long-handled cotton bud a few centimetres into your vagina. You do not need to insert a speculum or “find” your cervix. You can do it yourself, in private. It’s painless, easy to do and just as accurate as having the GP collect the sample. If you prefer to have a speculum examination, that option is still available too.
Cervical screening is now recommended every five years (it used to be two), and the name changed from “pap test” to “cervical screening test”.
Most people doing the test will receive the “all clear” and get on with enjoying life. But if there’s a problem, it’s better to find it early when treatment options are less invasive. Very few cancers can be detected early, but cervical changes can be monitored well before they develop into cervical cancer. In fact, over 70% of cervical cancers can be prevented by regular cervical screening.
Regardless of your situation, it’s important for anyone with a cervix aged 25 to 74 to have regular screening tests to protect yourself from cervical cancer.
Find a GP in your area who offers self-collection: