Sexual health is essential for complete and satisfying well-being. That's why Floravi wants to inform you more about the different tests and exams to be done to ensure perfect physical and mental health. You will quickly see that taking time for yourself will bring you more advantages than disadvantages!
The PAP test
Other names: gynecological cytology, cervicovaginal smear or Papanicolaou test, hence its acronym PAP.
The examination is made by whom? The test can be performed by your family doctor or gynecologist.
Why do the test? It can detect abnormal, precancerous or cancerous cells in the cervical region.
Who should do the test? In Quebec, it is suggested to do the test following the first sexual activities or at 21 years old. Note that even if you have been vaccinated against HPV, the test is necessary since the vaccine does not cover all types of HPV that can be sexually transmitted. However, it is interesting to know that the HPV vaccine is more effective if it is received before the onset of sexual activity.
How often should the test be done? It is recommended to do the test annually starting at 21 years old. If you have the same sexual partner and your lifestyle has not changed, your doctor may suggest you take the test every two years. The PAP test is highly recommended between the ages of 21 and 69 years.
What do you need to know before the exam? The test should not be performed during your menstrual period, so you should plan the date of your appointment wisely. It is not recommended to use a vaginal douche 24 hours before the examination. In addition, as with any vaginal examination, we advise you to urinate before being examined. Finally, it is a good idea to bring a sanitary napkin in case the exam causes slight vaginal bleeding.
Is it painful? This test does not usually cause pain, but rather discomfort.
What is the duration of the test? The test lasts between 5 and 10 minutes.
What is the process? First, the doctor will apply lubricant to the speculum (medical instrument made of metal or clear plastic) and insert it inside the vaginal cavity. Then, he will open it enough to access the cervix with a cotton swab to retrieve cells that he will deposit on a slide for analysis.
What do you need to know about the results? The results of your examination may reveal the presence of abnormal cells. The doctor may then suggest that you take a second, more thorough test, either a colposcopy or a blood test to confirm the nature of these cells. If the anomalies are still present, more tests will be needed.
The mammography test
The examination is made by whom? The test is performed by a technologist. However, he or she will not be able to comment on the contents of the X-rays with you. Your doctor or a specialized nurse practitioner will review the data and report the final results.
Why do the test? Breast cancer is one of the cancers responsible for the largest number of female deaths in Canada. Mammography is a test that can be performed with or without symptoms to detect the presence of cancer preventively.
Who should do the test and how often? The Canadian Cancer Society recommends that women between the ages of 50 and 69 have a mammogram every two years. During this period, the test is offered free of charge. However, if you have a history of breast cancer from previous generations of your family, it is advisable to start screening younger and at an annual rate. In addition, if you feel a palpable mass in your breasts, immediately consult a health care professional who will give you a mammogram if he or she feel it is necessary to perform this test.
What do you need to know before the exam? It is not necessary to be fasting during the examination. Since this is an X-ray, the ideal is to remove any type of accessory that may be harmful to mammography, such as jewelry, deodorant, body cream, perfume, etc. It is best to avoid wearing a dress during the exam since you will have to undress up to the waist. To alleviate the pain felt during the test, it is advisable to have the mammogram 10 days after the start of the menstrual period. In addition, avoid consuming foods such as coffee, tea, chocolate and brown liqueurs during the 2 weeks preceding the examination.
Is it painful? This test can be painful for a minority of women. Mostly, it causes a sensation of discomfort that, unique to each woman, can vary from mild to severe.
What is the duration of the test? Two shots are taken from each breast. Each compression for snapshots usually lasts 10 to 15 seconds. The complete exam has an average duration of 15 minutes.
What is the process? To perform the mammogram, you have to stand up shirtless. Then, a first breast will be deposited on the plate of the apparatus between the photographic film and the compression panel. As mentioned earlier, two shots will be taken, one vertical and the other at 45 degrees. Then the process starts again with the second breast. Breast compression is necessary for many reasons, for example: to obtain a better image of the breast by separating the superimposed structures, to increase the precision of the details, to reduce the movements and to decrease the amount of radiation required to perform the test.
What do you need to know about the results? First, it is good to know that certain elements or factors can affect the reading of a result. The test is not likely to damage anything, but it is necessary to mention to the technologist, if this is the case for you, that you wear breast prostheses or that you have had breast surgery before performing the mammography. Subsequently, the results are quite promising since nine times out of ten, they will be normal. The remaining 10% will require additional reviews to gain further insight into the nature of the results and to ensure the final diagnosis. In fact, a mammogram can detect a cyst, an abscess, inflammation of the nipple, benign or malignant masses or microcalcifications.