The speculum exam
8. Put a fixative on the slide.
There are many fixatives available, but the least expensive is medical
alcohol (95% ethyl alcohol). Pour some medical alcohol into a small
jar and dip the slide into the jar of alcohol as soon as
you have finished wiping the swab onto the slide. You
must do it quickly, before the tissue dries. Let the slide
sit in the medical alcohol for a few minutes, and then let
the slide dry in the air. If you do not have medical
alcohol, you can spray the slide with hairspray.
You must use a fixative on the slide or the thin layer of
tissue from the cervix will smear or come off and
the test will not be accurate.
9. Take the slide to a laboratory that can examine
Pap tests (not all laboratories can). Take the slide
within a week after doing the test.
Note: Tell the woman that a little bleeding from the vagina is normal
after a Pap test.
Cancer of the cervix
Cancer of the cervix can be a deadly disease, but if it is treated early, it can usually
be cured. Treatment is simple in the early stages. A trained doctor or nurse can
remove or destroy the diseased parts of the cervix in a medical center if they have
the right tools. After the diseased parts of the cervix have been removed, the
woman will usually get better. But hundreds of thousands of women die every year
from this cancer.
Why do so many women die if the disease is preventable and
e a s ily t r e a t e d ?
• Poor communities cannot afford to train health workers to test or
treat women for HPV, a common cause of cancer of the cervix.
• Rural and poor women may not be able to travel to distant medical centers
that give testing and treatment.
• Women and men do not know that they can prevent cancer of the cervix by
protecting themselves from HPV. For example, wearing condoms can prevent
women and men from getting HPV.
• Some women cannot protect themselves from HPV because they do not have
access to condoms. Some women cannot protect themselves because they are
forced to have sex or to have unsafe sex. Some couples do not like to use
A Book for Midwives (2010)