The cervical smear is an essential investigation in gynaecological follow up. This simple procedure should be performed as soon assexual activitybegins and at regular intervals afterwards. It is performed either by a gynaecologist or by a general practitioner.
The procedure for a cervical smear
The examination is used for screening some inflammatory and malignant diseases. It is usual for a smear to be performed in the first year after beginning sexual intercourse. The frequency of the test then varies at intervals of between one and three years depending on time and life and past gynaecological history. It is one of the fundamental ways of preventing cervical cancer.
The investigation procedure
The doctor uses a spatula or small specially adapted brush introduced into the vagina using a speculumand smears - hence the term « smear »- collecting cells from the vaginal mucosa and the endocervix. The samples are then sent to a laboratory where they are analysed by a specialist, a cytologist.
Possible risks of a cervical smear
Some women are fearful of a smear and find it to be unpleasant. However the investigation, is usually painless. Minor bleeding can occur after the samples are taken. This is not abnormal and not a reason for concern.
- 800 questions for a gynaecologist (French), Dr Alain Tamborini, Marabout editor;
- Fédération nationale des collèges de gynécologie médicale, accessed on 7 January 2011.
Is a smear really a painful investigation? © endostock