Protect Your Health (Pap Smear) | Western Cape Government

Protect Your Health (Pap Smear)

(Western Cape Government)

Information for women over 30 on what pap smears are, and when and why they should be done.

Every Woman over 30 Should Have a Pap Smear

What is a Pap Smear?

  • A pap smear is a simple, quick vaginal examination to check if the cervix (the mouth of the womb) is healthy.
  • A special instrument called a speculum is used to hold the vagina open so that the doctor or nurse can see the cervix.
  • Some cells are gently wiped off the cervix and sent to a laboratory for testing.
  • The results of this test will be sent to your clinic so remember to go back for your results.


Why Should I Go for a Pap Smear?

A pap smear detects abnormal cells that may later become Cancer of the Cervix.

What is Cancer of the Cervix?

  • Cancer of the Cervix is one of the most common forms of cancer against women.
  • Cancer of the Cervix if detected early can be treated and cured.
  • All women are at risk of developing cancer of the cervix.
  • The risk of developing Cancer of the Cervix increases as you get older.
  • You are still at risk even if:
    • you are not sexually active
    • you are menopausal or have experienced menopause
    • you no longer plan to have children
    • you are sterilized
    • you show no signs or symptoms.


When Should I Go for a Pap Smear?

  • You should have a pap smear at least every ten years, starting in your thirties.
  • You should have three FREE pap smears, one in your thirties, one in your forties and one in your fifties.
  • These FREE pap smears are available at your nearest clinic or health center.


Your Health Rights

You are entitled:

  • to three free pap smears in your lifetime, one every ten years, starting in your thirties.
  • to be treated with dignity, respect and privacy when going for your pap smear.
  • to ask your health provider to explain the procedure to you.


Your Responsibilities

  • You must take responsibility for your own health.
  • You must go back for the results of your pap smear.
  • You must go for any follow up treatment if advised to do so.
  • You must give the correct contact details to the health service providers so that they can you if you need further treatment.


Information taken from a pamphlet produced as part of the Cervical Health Implementation Programme (CHIP).
The content on this page was last updated on 28 July 2014