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Have you got your cervix screened yet? If not, you might be in trouble

Published on:10 August 2021, 14:08pm IST
HPV vaccine is essential, but so is early testing to protect yourself against various strains of cervical cancer. Here’s all you need to know.
Geetika Sachdev
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cervical cancer
Make sure to take the right steps to protect yourself from cervical cancer. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect yourself from human papillomavirus or HPV. According to Dr Niveditha Manokaran (also known as dr_nive_untaboos on Instagram), HPV vaccination goes hand in hand with cervical screening test/pap smear in the prevention of cervical cancer.

In her recent Instagram post, she has shared all about the cervical screening test, why one must go for it, and why routine testing is important. Without further ado, let’s get down to the details. 

Check out the post now:

What is a cervical screening test?

“A cervical screening test is a simple procedure to check the health of your cervix. The test involves a health professional taking a sample of cells from your cervix. The sample of cells is then checked in a laboratory for the presence of HPV,” adds Dr Manokaran.  

Also, read: Can poor hygiene down there give you cervical cancer? Here’s the truth

Why should you get a cervical screening test?

It is a screening test to detect early cervical cancer. Strangely, HPV is common — 90% of the people are infected with at least one type of genital HPV in their lives. In fact, 90% of cervical cancers occur in women who have not been screened.

How often do I need a cervical screening test?

This is a question most women don’t have the answer to. Dr Manokaran breaks it down — she says it is important to get tested if you have a cervix, are aged between 25 and 74 or have been sexually active. She adds, “You need to have a cervical screening test every 5 years, even if you are no longer sexually active or have experienced menopause.”

cervical cancer
Pap smears every three years can help you stay on top of your cervical health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
When should I start routine cervical screening?

If you have a cervix, you should start cervical screening at the age of 25. Further, if you have had a pap smear before the age of 23, you would have been due for your next cervical screening test, once you have turned 25,” says Dr Manokaran. 

Also, read: I survived cervical cancer: How a gynae coped with a life-changing diagnosis

Regardless of who you have sex with, if you have a cervix and have ever had sex, you need to have cervical screening test at least every 5 years. 

Isn’t five years too long to wait between tests?

Because of the advancement in research, the cervical screening test is more accurate and can identify cervical health issues earlier on.  This means that the cervical screening test will catch what could eventually turn into cervical cancer one step earlier than the pap smear.  For that reason, you don’t have to test as frequently. 

What if I have had the HPV vaccine?

“The HPV vaccine only protects against some types of HPV. There are several other types of HPV not covered by the vaccine. There is also the possibility that you have been exposed to HPV through sexual activity before you had the vaccine. 

The best way to look after the health of your cervix is the combination of the HPV vaccine and regular cervical screening,” concludes Dr Manokaran.

Geetika Sachdev Geetika Sachdev

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town.