What is a gynaecological screening?
Gynaecological screening is performed to detect cancerous or pre-cancerous cells (in particular cervical cancer) in the female reproductive system, with the objective of early diagnosis and treatment leading to better recovery outcomes. It is also known as a pap smear or a pap test, and can be performed by a gynaecologist.
When or how often should I get a gynaecological screening?
From the age of 21 years, it is recommended that women are screened every three to five years. Your gynaecologist will perform the screening, and generally you will receive a reminder once the interval is nearly up. If for some reason, you are classified as at risk for any conditions, more regular screening or follow-ups may be required.Enquire with our gynaecologists.
Did you know?
Research has shown that knowledge about pap smear and cervical cancer is an important determinant of screening behaviour in Singaporean women. All health professionals working with young Asian women should be prepared to educate and counsel young women to participate in pap smear screening according to current guidelines. In particular, knowledge of the age to attend the first pap smear and the recommended frequency for screening need to be targeted for health education.¹
How should I prepare for my appointment?
Before your gynaecological screening appointment, it is important to follow the following guidelines:
– Do not schedule your appointment during your menstrual period.
– Do not engage in sexual intercourse 48 hours prior to your appointment.
– Do you not use tampons, vaginal medicines, douches, creams, jellies, or spermicides 48 hours prior.
– Just before the examination, it is advisable to urinate and consciously relax.
What can I expect during a gynaecological screening?
Your gynaecologist will perform a breast exam and then a pelvic exam to inspect the internal and external genitalia, as well as the reproductive organs. Next, he or she will collect the cervical cells to screen for cervical cancer and human papillomavirus (HPV) via a speculum which will be inserted to separate the vaginal walls. You may experience some discomfort but it should be over in about one minute.
These cells will then be carefully examined under a microscope in a laboratory.
What happens after my gynaecological screening?
After your screening, you will receive a letter from your gynaecologist, or the laboratory directly, with the results of your test. There are two potential outcomes:
– A negative result means that your cervix is healthy. No further action is required until your next screening in 3-5 years.
– A positive result or abnormal finding means that there is something unusual, but not necessarily cancer-related. You will need to return to see your specialist for a follow-up and possibly re-do the test in a short period of time (to confirm or deny the findings).
 Shea J, Klainin-Yobas P, Mackey S. Young Singaporean women’s knowledge of cervical cancer and pap smear screening: a descriptive study. J Clin Nurs. 2013 Dec; 22(23-24):3310-9. doi: 10.1111/jocn.12420.