What do Valentine's Day and a Pap test have in common?

Q: What do Valentine’s Day and a Pap test have in common?

A: Most women undergo some form of ‘prepping’ or ‘primping’ prior to the big occasion!

Whether it’s Mary Lou, Lady Garden, The Velvet Underground or Vajayay, most of us have a name we affectionately call our most feminine parts. But we’re still shy when it comes to giving them the respect they deserve. It’s time for Australian women to treat this precious part of their body with the same level of TLC they lavish on the rest of their body parts: face, skin, hair, fingers and toes!

Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, and this usually means romantic dinners and quality time with someone special. But this year, the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation (ACCF) is urging women to remember themselves this day of love with a caring gesture to their most feminine parts by committing to make a date with their doctor for a Pap test. It’s not quite as dreamy as dinner for two under the stars, but you owe it to yourself.

The ACCF is dedicated to eliminating cervical cancer in Australia and in the developing world. The charity did a Newspoll survey and turned up some interesting facts and figures. Apparently 42% of us have some form of personal grooming planned this Valentine’s Day!

Here’s what the survey showed we women would be getting up to in prep for the annual celebration of love:

– 21% will ‘tidy up’ their bikini line area or have a ‘Brazilian’

– 37% will wax, shave or have laser hair removal treatment on their legs

– 25% will style their hair by visiting a hairdresser or with a ‘DIY hairdo’

– 11% will have a manicure or pedicure

Interestingly, when it comes to our next Pap test date, that figure leaps to 97% of us doing some sort of waxing, trimming or shaving

Before we visit the doc:

– 28% organise some form of ‘downstairs grooming’ – from a trim or bikini line ‘tidy up’ to even a ‘Brazilian’

– 47% will wax, shave or laser their legs


– 29% make sure they have a morning appointment

– 37% select certain underwear for the occasion

– 32% plan their wardrobe for the day by wearing certain clothing

As a GP, and as a woman, I know how women of all ages can be conscious of how they look – particularly when we’re in a vulnerable position, like having a Pap test. I’ve had so many patients who have postponed having a Pap test, usually out of embarrassment, only to return an abnormal result when they eventually get around to it. Then of course they kick themselves because the earlier you detect an abnormality, the better the outlook.

But honestly, when you are the one doing the Pap test, you just don’t notice the state of grooming downstairs. But what I do know is that women feel more comfortable in what is ultimately a bit of an awkward experience if they feel confident about the way they present in that department. And I’m all for whatever makes this experience easier for my patients because Pap tests are so important for a woman’s health.

The cervical screening programme has been running for over twenty years and I was shocked to learn recently that over 920,000 Australian women (that’s 13% of all women in the country) have never ever had a Pap test. And 40% of women don’t go for a Pap test every two years as recommended.

Ok, so it’s not as pleasant as a pedicure, a facial, or a body wrap but it could save your life. A Pap test is the best way to find the early stages of cervical disease, which could one day turn into cancer if left undetected or untreated.

By setting a Pap test date around Valentine’s Day, it’s is an easy reminder and a great personal commitment to yourself. Personal grooming is a special priority for many women on both occasions, so it means you’ll already be feeling and looking great, and the experience will be done and dusted for another two years!

For more information, check out the following links:

Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation

Australian Government’s National Cervical Screening Program

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