Yearly exam. Its two words women dread, next to menstrual cycle and pregnancy ( depending on the circumstances). Most of us leave violated (and cramping) and our heads filled with the worst case scenarios. But like our other doctors, such as our dentist or general physician, a gynecologist is here to help us, not scare us into our worst possible nightmares of the vagina.
1. A pap-smear test doesn’t mean you have cancer, it helps you to prevent it.
If you’re a first-timer in the OBYGN office, seeing a speculum (that looks more like an giant ice-cream scoop turned inside out) , can freak you out. But the main reason we get pap smears is to prevent cervical cancer. According to a study in the journal Cancer, black women are dying from this cancer at a 77% rate higher than white women. During pap smears, doctors take cells from your cervix to test them for cancer. Getting an HPV vaccine is another preventive method. Human papillomavirus can cause cervical cancer. Pap-smears are just an yearly-precaution to keep YOU healthy.
2. A pap-smear test doesn’t mean you’re pregnant
As soon as you’re taken back in the office, you’re asked to take an urine test. Then we spend the next two weeks, dreading the results. No need. Two reasons, birth control and safe sex. If you practice both, there’s no need to stress. And the tests are not all about baby scares. They’re also done to screen for UTI’s ( urinary tract infections) and other bacteria. Most of these conditions are treated with an anti-biotic ( eat yogurt with it or risk getting a yeast infection) . Additionally, drinking lots of water, using the bathroom after intercourse and avoiding feminine wipes or perfume soaps can prevent those kind of problems.
3. Light bleeding after a pap-smear test doesn’t mean you’re dying
Its normal to have some kind of discharge or bleeding after your exam. As a matter of fact, random vaginal bleeding and spotting is pretty common and not really serious. But if it continues with other symptoms, such as itching, swelling or irritation, then you have a problem. Call the doctor back. Immediately.
4. Paps are also a good time to get your breast examined
After the cold objects are the colder hands. But we need those hands. Breast cancer is still the number one killer of African-American women. According to the American Cancer Society , the cancer is killing us at an faster rate than white and Hispanic women in the United States. Needless to say, breast cancer examinations are not only necessary, they’re life-saving. And you don’t have to wait once a year to get them. You can do it yourself everyday, whether its in the shower, changing clues or on the couch binge-watching a Netflix series. Just give the girls a squeeze. Better you than a stranger.
5. Relax, take deep breaths, remain calm
A pap is just another beautiful, burden of being an woman. We’ve spread our legs for less. So inhale, exhale and get it over it.
A working journalist, entrepreneur and founder of RoyalTee Enterprises. Born and raised in Tampa, Fla. The vision of RoyalTee was inspired in 2015 by Alexia’s ambitions to return to her passion for creative writing and publishing and create a platform to showcase the excellence of minority women across the country through professional, personal and social ventures.