Pap smears are something precisely no one looks forward to.
It's a semi-invasive check-up that involves whipping your undies off and being prodded in the vagina by a doctor with (far too often) very cold hands. Right?
Well, yes and no.
Watch the juiciest responses from the Mamamia Sex Survey. Post continues after video.
You see pap smears actually come in a variety of forms, and they may have changed a lil' since your last swab-tastic-session - as we've just learnt via the very informative gals on Mamamia's podcast, The Undone.
So, we've decided to round up every concern/worry/manic-panic you may have had about pap smears and run them by a pap expert, so we can all breathe a little easier when we book in our next appointment.
Myth 1. "You need to get a pap smear after you lose your virginity."
Actually, you should start having regular pap smears once you turn 25 years old - regardless of sexual activity. (FYI the advice used to be for those aged 18 to 25 to have their first screening, but that's changed as now most women under 25 have been vaccinated for HPV.)
For those who have some contradicting inner voice saying, "no, no, you're meant to have them the second you start having sex," don't worry, you're not losing your marbles. As mentioned, Things have just changed on the pap smear scene.
In their chat with Dr Ginni Mansberg, The Undone hosts Emily and Lucy got the cold, hard, gloved facts on what the lay of the land is now.
"So, we got some changes in 2019," Dr Ginni said. "When we changed what we do with the cells that we take during the cervical screening tests."
...oh P.S. it's called 'cervical screening tests' now, not 'pap smears'.
The physical collection of the cells remains the same, but the process afterwards differs. According to Dr Ginni, previously a pathologist would take the collected cells and "rub them on a slide and fix them with a kind of setting spray".
"The pathologists would look at that and give a report and it was really long and clunky, sometimes took us two weeks to get the pathology back on those things. And then we worked out that the changes are nearly always caused by a virus called the human papillomavirus, which is a wart virus, and it's a sexually transmitted virus."