Pap tests and checkups

A Pap test, also called a Pap smear, is a simple test that can help protect your daughter from cervical cancer. The Pap test can detect abnormal cervical cells before they have a chance to develop into cervical cancer, and it can help catch cervical cancer while it's still early and easy to treat. Remember, a Pap test is one of the best screening methods for detecting abnormal cervical cells and cervical cancer.

Female reproductive system

Pap test procedure

Pap tests are very important and shouldn't be put off! Up to 50% of women with cervical cancer didn't have their Pap tests as recommended.

Most experts agree that every woman who is, or has been, sexually active should have a Pap test regularly. Since the guideline is different in each province, it is important to check provincial recommendations.

Even women who have been vaccinated against some types of HPV need regular Pap tests and check-ups.

Pap tests should be done in combination with a pelvic exam, where the doctor checks to make sure the other parts of the reproductive system (such as the vagina, uterus, and ovaries) are healthy and screens for other sexually transmitted infections.

Many young women are nervous about going for a Pap test and pelvic exam, and that's understandable.

How you can help

  • Explain that the test only takes a few minutes and this is about her taking care of herself.
  • Make sure she knows that she can speak to the doctor about issues that might be concerning her, and she can ask questions that she might not feel comfortable asking anyone else.
  • If she's still uncomfortable, let her know she doesn't have to go alone. Offer to go with her (or suggest that she asks a friend) to give her some moral support. On the other hand, if she'd rather go alone, let her do so.

Talk to your daughter about the importance of having regular pelvic exams and Pap tests. A Pap test can save her life.