Getting a yearly Pap smear is something that most women don’t want to talk about, but it’s something that we need to address. January is cervical cancer awareness month, which is why it’s important to get an annual gynecology exam because this routine exam can help save lives.
A recent survey from the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health and HealthyWomen found some interesting facts about how women feel and prepare for their gynecologic exam. These organizations with support from Hologic, Inc. conducted a 15-minute online survey among 1,000 U.S. women from diverse age groups, religions, regions, education levels, and income. They found a variety of things that go through the minds of women prior and during the exam, including:
-85% of women consider their gynecologic appointment when they are getting ready that day
-80% of women prefer to wear granny panties over lingerie to their GYN exams
-7 in 10 women spend more time bathing/showering before their GYN exam – an average of 7 minutes more than usual
-7 in 10 women specifically shave and wax for their GYN exam; in fact, around 1 in 10 women get a bikini or Brazilian wax
-79% of women wonder if they should use the restroom before their GYN exam
-4 in 5 women keep their socks on while in the stirrups
-45% of women believe the gown should be worn to the front, yet 55 percent of women believe it should be worn open to the back
-3 in 5 women claimed to prefer to cut right to the chase and discuss their health concerns at their appointment
-Among women in their 30’s, 61% think about their sex life during their GYN exam, but only 42% bring it up
-Women are 26% more likely to talk about the weather than their sex life at their GYN exam
-1 in 4 women would rather discuss their favorite TV show than the tests they receive at their GYN exam
-82% of women prefer to have a female doctor perform their GYN exam
“About 86% of women look at OB/GYN Pap tests as a necessary evil, they don’t like to talk about it, but oddly enough in our survey we learned that about 60% wanted to, even though at the end of the survey only about 40% actually brought it up,” says Aimee Chism Holland, women’s health nurse practitioner, DNP, WHNP-BC, FNP-C, RD and Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
They found that in most cases, women wait until their health provider asked them if they wanted to have the exam. If you are between the ages of 21 and 65, you need to have a cervical cancer screening. A Pap test is recommended for women ages 21 to 29 years old and a Pap test + Human Papillomavirus (HPV) screening is recommended for women 30 to 65 years old. “That appointment is meant to empower women to be able to ask questions about their health concerns, talk about her family history, or even about something she heard on the news,” says Holland. It’s very important that women keep that appointment and are up to date on their screenings.