You’ll now be able to access self-testing kits for cervical cancer screening. Nice one Australia!

It’s hoped that the self-testing kits will help make cervical cancer screening more comfortable, accessible and less invasive for people who need them.

As per 9News, Australia is the first country to offer the tests to all patients who need a screening.

If you’ve never been screened for cervical cancer before, the way it’s traditionally done is through a pap smear or the human papillomavirus (HPV) test.

The HPV test actually replaced the pap smear back in 2017. If you’re between the ages of 25 to 74, sexually active and have a cervix, you’re supposed to get a HPV test around every five years. Before that was introduced, you were supposed to get a pap smear every two years.

But both the traditional HPV test and pap smears can be really uncomfortable for many people because doctors have to put an instrument called a speculum into the vagina and swab the cervix.

As pointed out by the Department of Health, this whole process can be not just physically uncomfortable but also traumatic for a number of people.

Dr Karen Price from the Royal Australian College of GPs told The Guardian the cervical cancer self-tests could be “a gamechanger”.

It is a positive step forward because it helps our patients to have a choice around how they experience cervical screening, which can be a challenging and uncomfortable experience for many people,” Price said.

These new self-collected cervical cancer tests will be much less invasive, so will hopefully increase the number of people getting screened. Yay!

So how’s it all gonna work?

Well firstly, the Department of Health has said self-collection will be available through GP clinics, Aboriginal health centres and women’s health clinics as well as other healthcare providers.

You’ll take the cervical cancer self-test while you’re at your healthcare provider. They’ll explain how to perform the test and you’ll be able to take the sample in private.

The test itself involves inserting a swab into your vagina and then rotating it for up to 30 seconds. Is it weird I’m picturing a nasal RAT here?

Health expert Liz Ham told the ABC about how the self-test works.

“You just turn [the swab] a number of times to collect the cells inside the vagina. After that you take it out and give it back to the doctor,” she said.

Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care Ged Kearney reckons the change will also help with “breaking down access barriers for many people”.

“Self collection will make cervical cancer screening a lot more accessible for people of different cultural backgrounds, who may not have opted to get a traditional ‘pap smear’,” she said in a statement.

“It will also ensure the gender diverse community have less barriers to screening.”

The traditional HPV test will also still be available if that’s what you prefer.

But truly we love to see people given more comfortable options when it comes to their health. The new tests are available from July, so if you’re eligible go forth and swab!

Image: Gray's Anatomy