Cervical cancer can affect women of all ages, and it’s treatable if found early. The best way to diagnose cervical cancer is a Pap test. Here are some tips if you are nervous about getting your Pap test:
- Be comfortable with your doctor. Find a doctor that you get along with, and don’t be afraid to talk with him or her about any questions or hesitations you may have about getting tested.
- Try to stay relaxed. When you’re anxious or nervous, it’s natural for your muscles to tense up, which can make the exam more uncomfortable. Taking deep breaths is one way to relax. Or, try to distract yourself by counting the ceiling tiles or even wiggling your toes.
- Mild discomfort is normal, pain is not. Let your doctor know if Pap tests are painful for you. Your doctor can help identify the causes and may be able to offer solutions.
- If you feel self-conscious or are scared, you are not alone! These are some of the main reasons women avoid getting a Pap test and it’s common to feel this way. Learning about the test is one of the best ways to empower yourself and become more confident as a patient.
When to screen for cervical cancer:
- Age 20. Begin screening for cervical cancer.
- Age 20 to 30. Pap test every three years if results are normal.
- Age 31 to 64. Pap test every three years or Pap test plus HPV test every five years.
- Age 65 and over. Stop routine screening if results are normal for the past 10 years.
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