For many young women, the idea of booking an appointment for their first ever pap smear is a little overwhelming. If you’ve never had a proper pelvic exam before, your mind may be filled with imaginary horror images of the procedure that don’t truly match reality. In fact, going for regular pap smears from a young age is a great way to protect your reproductive health, as well as empowering yourself as a woman. Here are just a few important reasons to inspire you to book that appointment today.
- You can stop cancer in its tracks.
Okay, nobody likes to start off with the big C-word, but since that’s one of the primary reasons for being vigilant about pelvic exams, it’s important to face it head-on straight away. When your Melbourne gynaecologist examines you during a pap smear, they’ll take a cervical swab. This swab is then sent off for analysis to examine the cells and pick up any possible precancerous lesions or dodgy tissue. This may sound scary and overwhelming, but it’s actually a great way to head off a serious problem by nipping it in the bud before it has a chance to escalate into anything life threatening. Cervical cancer, when caught early, is treatable. Getting a pap smear ensures you know where your body stands, and that you’re protected from those cells developing into anything more frightening.
- You can find out your HPV status.
That’s right, not HIV – HPV. HPV is an incredibly common STI that affects many people all around the world. While it may sometimes present itself as genital warts, it’s often a silent virus that you wouldn’t realise you have until you go for your pap smear. It’s crucial that you know, however, as certain strains of HPV can increase your chances of developing cervical cancer. It’s also always a great idea to know if you’ve got any STI so you can let your past and current sexual partners know what’s going on and keep everyone involved, including yourself, completely safe through awareness and treatment.
- You can keep an eye on your reproductive health.
If you’ve experienced any unusual discharge, changes in your menstrual cycle, or frequent episodes of infections or thrush, getting a pap smear and thorough pelvic exam is the only way to find out what’s really going on down there. You don’t want to just leave things to chance when it comes to your health, especially if these potential issues could do serious damage or affect your future fertility. This may not seem important when you’re in your early 20s or a newly sexually active teenager, but you could regret if further down the line if you neglect these often treatable health issues.
- It’s nowhere near as scary as it sounds.
We definitely understand the fear – if you’ve never visited a gynaecologist before, the whole idea of a pelvic exam and pap smear can sound pretty intimidating and downright uncomfortable. The truth is, your gynaecologist does these exams every day and knows exactly how to make the process as painless as possible. They’ll be sure to make you feel comfortable, chat to you through the process to explain everything clearly, and make sure you’re feeling calm and at ease throughout the whole appointment.