Women’s Health 

Our Registered Nurse has qualifications and experience in women’s health and can provide you with:

  • Cervical screening (pap smears)
  • Breast checks
  • Well woman check – a general wellbeing assessment to determine health improvements that may be beneficial to you

Pap Smear Testing

Pap smear tests are used to identify early changes in the cells of the cervix that could lead to cervical cancer if not detected and treated.

Cervical disease, when detected early, is very treatable. Early detection is vital and Pap smears remain the best test to identify changes and prevent cervical cancer. A Pap smear test taken once every two years from ages 18-70 can reduce the risk of developing cancer of the cervix by up to 90%.

Who should have a Pap Smear Test?

The Australian Government’s National Cervical Screening Program recommends all women who have ever been sexually active have a Pap test every 2 years from the age of 18 until the age of 70.

This includes:

  • Women who have been sexually active for 2 years or more and have turned 18
  •  Women who are in long term relationships
  •  Some women who have had a hysterectomy
  •  Women who have had a partial hysterectomy and still have a cervix
  •  Women who are no longer sexually active ~ cervical cell changes can be slow to appear
  •  Women over 70 years who have NOT had two normal smears in the previous 5 years
  •  Lesbian women
  •  Women who have had the HPV vaccination ~ the vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV

Procedure

After a speculum is gently placed into the vagina, cervical cells are taken from the cervix with a small brush and ‘fixed’ on a glass slide. At Ballina Health Centre a ‘ThinPrep’ Pap test is also used and will be sent with your slide to the pathology laboratory for testing. This means cells collected by the small brush are put into a container filled with a solution. This helps to separate cervical cells from mucous, blood and other substances in the sample, allowing improved examination by the pathologist.

The cost for the ThinPrep analysis is not covered by Medicare.

When to have the test?

Pap smears can be done at any time of your cycle, as long as you are not bleeding, but we recommend the middle of your cycle for accuracy.

The accuracy of the test can be reduced if you have:

  •  Your period
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding
  • Vaginal infections, such as thrush
  • Blood or mucous around the cervix

Sometimes a Pap Smear sample will be reported as unsatisfactory and will need to be repeated. If a test has to be repeated, it is best to wait 2-3 months before repeating it so the cells can return to normal.

An Abnormal Pap smear test

This does not mean you have cervical cancer.

An abnormal Pap smear test result means there is some change in the cells taken from the cervix.

There are many reasons for a change or difference including:

  •  Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Pre-cancerous changes

With some abnormal Pap smear tests you may be referred for a colposcopy. A colposcopy is performed in a doctor’s room using an electric microscope with a bright light so that the cervix can be more clearly seen.

Occasionally, an abnormal Pap smear test result may need to be managed by a specialist or a gynaecologist.

References:

 True Relationships & Reproductive Health 2015

Cancer Screening ~ National Cervical Screening Program

Only available to current patients of Dr Hayter

phone (02) 6686 9199 | 32 tamar street, ballina

Three out of four women who develop cervical cancer have either not had regular pap smears or have never had a Pap smear