Published on October 22, 2013
Earlier this year, I made an entry entitled Things Your OB/GYN Failed To Tell You. At that time, I just ditched my old OB/GYN of 6 years and found an angel in disguise through another OB/GYN - Dra. Australia Luz of St. Luke’s Global. Every visit to her is like a refresher course in Biology. She discusses things even beyond the calls of my medical condition. I can ask questions without fear of prejudice. She eagerly feeds my inquisitive mind every time I ask her something. Just recently, I learned a few things through her. Before we proceed, let me remind you that it is still best to consult your OB/GYN and not rely on blogs and online researching.
Now, let’s talk about pap test, also known as pap smear. As soon as I got married, my mother encouraged me to have pap test. Over the years, and two OB/GYNs, I have learned a lot and corrected some misconceptions about it.
1. Pap test is not painful.
My first question to my mom was if the test is painful. She said it’s not. My mother has very high pain tolerance so I didn’t believe her. Being the weak-hearted that I am, I prepared my mind that the procedure would be painful. As she described how it’s done, I was more convinced that she was lying when she told me that it wouldn’t hurt. Haha! I will not discuss how it’s done because it will probably gross you out. I don’t want to lose my readers. Anyway, you have to believe me that it is not painful. Yes, you will feel some discomfort. But it’s not painful. A woman’s body is designed to bear PMS and childbirth, so sisiw lang ang pap smear!
2. Sexually active women, married or not, should have a pap test.
After I asked my mom whether it’s painful or not, I went around asking married friends and relatives the same question. I was so surprised to find out that most of them have not experienced having a pap test! If you are not yet married, but already sexually active, do yourself a favor and ask your OB/GYN if you can have a pap test. I am not sure the minimum age requirement so go ask a doctor to be sure. A sexually active friend once told me that she is shy to go to her OB/GYN and ask for a pap test because she is not yet married. Doctors are there to help patients, not judge them. Kung mag-judge sila dun sila sa Supreme Court. Hindi sila bagay sa ospital! =))
3. Pap test is not expensive.
If you have a health insurance, I am pretty sure that this is covered. If you don’t have one, this only costs less than PHP1000. Kung nakakabili nga kayo ng Iphone, paglaanan niyo ang pap smear. =)
4. Pap smear can detect early stages of cervical cancer.
According to my OB/GYN, HPV vaccine is a great way in protecting ourselves from cervical cancer. But even if you have yourself vaccinated, you still need to have the annual pap test as it can detect cervical cancer. The sooner it gets detected, the better your chances of surviving it. Mas mura at less painful ang pap smear kesa sa surgery at chemotherapy.
5. Cancer is not our only problem.
My OB/GYN told me that they look for three things in a pap test result – cancer, infection and inflammation. The last two may be less serious than cancer, but this doesn’t mean that these should be taken for granted. Once an inflammation/infection is detected, your OB/GYN can address it immediately. I mentioned in my previous post that once you get infection, odds are you will just be passing it to your partner. If not treated, it will just be a cycle. Pasahan kayo forever ng infection. Medyo kadiri, right?
6. Always take note of your last pap test.
Although I have read that you can have a pap test every other year, my OB/GYN suggested I have it done annually. Bear in mind that you are not your doctor’s only patient. Even if your OB/GYN knows your medical history inside and out, odds are he/she cannot keep track of everything. Make sure that you take note of your last test. Don’t wait for your OB/GYN to remind you to have a pap test. Be proactive.
7. Don’t be shy.
Ask questions. Open up to your doctor. Be honest. Your OB/GYN is trained for all of these – even the “yucky” stuff. If you’re not comfortable with your OB/GYN, find someone who you can trust completely.
8. Know your body.
This goes hand in hand with #7. Your OB/GYN knows better in anatomy, but you know your body better. Your OB/GYN’s diagnosis is greatly dependent on the information you feed her that’s why you have to be aware of any changes you feel in your body. Let’s say you had your pap test less than a year ago but you notice you’re having some weird discharge, go tell your OB/GYN. Don’t assume that you’re absolutely fine just because your last pap test was normal.
9. Liquid-based pap test
When I had my pap test a couple of weeks ago, my OB/GYN asked whether my previous test was already the liquid-based pap test. I gave her a blank stare. I had no idea what she was talking about. I told her that as far as I could remember, my previous OB/GYN used a cotton bud to get sample from my cervix. I didn’t know whether it was liquid-based or not. As I mentioned from this post, my prior OB/GYN is not the most accommodating doctor so I didn’t ask her anything when I had my first test. According to my new OB/GYN, the use of cotton buds is the conventional way of pap test. There is a new and improved version which is the liquid-based pap test. The sample is put in a liquid solution. And instead of cotton buds, a brush that rotates 360 degrees is being used. Again, I gave her a blank stare. She started explaining even before I could ask her the difference between that brush and a cotton bud. According to her, the conventional way only gets sample from A PORTION of a woman’s cervix. The use of the brush can yield better coverage. 360 degrees vs a portion. Take a pick! So on your next visit to your OB/GYN, inquire about the liquid-based pap test. I had mine in St. Luke’s Global, and my OB/GYN told me that it is also being offered in Medical City.
Again, these are just some of the things that I recently learned from my OB/GYN. I just thought of sharing these with you because I know a lot of women who have not even experienced undergoing a pap test. I intentionally didn’t put my OB/GYN’s name because I don’t want her to lose her medical license just because I misinterpreted something and wrote it here. :p Again, don’t just rely on the things you read from the internet. Consulting an OB/GYN is still way better than Google-ing for answers.