A pap smear (or cervical smear test) is a way to check on the health of your cervix. Marie Stopes South Africa offers pap smear tests to all women across the country. From first-time pap smear tests to return visits, our services are available at all our centres nationwide.
Why Get a Pap Smear
Not only can a pap smear test detect sexually transmitted infections (STIs), it’s also a quick and simple means of screening for the possibility of early warning signs of cervical cancer.
If abnormal cells are noticed during your pap smear test, they can be closely observed and/or treated to prevent cancer from developing. A pap smear test also allows a healthcare provider to check for any infections or discomfort you may be experiencing.
Marie Stopes has 17 centres across South Africa, to make an appointment for a pap smear book online or call us on 0800 11 77 85. If it’s your first time having a pap smear or you have some questions on why getting a pap smear test is important, check out our Frequently Asked Questions in this section.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any more questions or queries on the pap smear process.
Pap Smear FAQs
When and how often should I have a pap smear?
The South African HPV Advisory Board recommend that a woman begin having pap smears when she becomes sexually active or turns 21 each year until the age of 30 and then every 3 years after the age of 30. Get in touch for a pap smear cost estimate.
Why do I need a pap smear?
The test looks for changes in the cells of your cervix. Changes happen very slowly but can lead to serious problems like cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is the number one killer of South African women. Often, there are no symptoms, until the condition is at an advanced stage. If abnormal cells are noticed at screening, they can be closely observed and/or treated to prevent cancer from developing. Regular screening has been proven to reduce the risk of cancer by 90%. Many women feel nervous about having a pap smear test, yet regular screening has saved thousands of lives by discovering problems before they become serious.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
The sample taken during your pap smear can also be used to test for HPV. HPV is a common viral infection, which can be passed on during sex. It can show up in the cells of your cervix and sometimes causes an abnormal or unclear smear test result. There are many different types of HPV, some of which have been linked to cervical cancer. The test can spot HPV even before changes can be seen on the cervix. This means women at risk of cervical cancer can be identified much earlier and their health can be monitored closely.
When should I make a pap smear appointment?
You cannot be screened during your period, so the best time to make your appointment is roughly two weeks after the first day of your period (between days 10 and 16 of your monthly cycle).
How is a pap smear taken?
The nurse will ask you to lie back and will gently insert an instrument called a speculum into your vagina, so she can view your cervix. A brush or spatula is used to take a sample of cells from just inside the opening of your cervix.