Female health: Is the youth informed?

symbols-018Increasingly, several health ills arise that affect everyone. In turn, many health treatments and ways for prevention arise to combat these sicknesses. However, people usually are aware of these ailments and treatments when they are much older. Since it is the month of October and it well-known as the month for breast cancer awareness, (amongst National nutrition week and World Mental health day) in the health field and nationally, the focus is on young women. Do young females know much about their health, where they stand individually and preventions for such?

Although it is rare, men do get breast cancer. The most typical kind of this cancer attacks their female counterparts year after year. The CANSA organisation travels around South Africa creating awareness for general cancerous diseases while providing test and check-ups for it. Apart from non-melanoma skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in South African women of all races with a lifetime risk of 1 to 35 in South Africa, according to a 2007 National Cancer registry.

CANSA’s Acting CEO, Elize Joubert stated on the CANSA website that, “We encourage all women to conduct regular self-examinations once a month. Know how your breasts look and feel – discuss any changes you observe with your health practitioner. It’s also very important to go for a mammogram every year from the age of 40,” she said. She also encourages early detection as a means for females to prevent an unfortunate future where they may have breast cancer. Women from the age of 18 are not fully aware of screen tests opportunities available. “We have nine Mobile Health Clinics travelling to remote areas throughout South Africa, in October, to reach people who would otherwise not have access to screening,” says Joubert. See when a Mobile Health Clinic will be in your area during October

They offer Clinical Breast Examinations, Pap smear screening tests for cervical cancer, as well as other health tests such as cholesterol, blood pressure.

The Papanicolaou test, also known as the Pap test or Pap smear. This is a test for women to check the cervix for any abnormal cell changes. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus (womb), which opens into the vagina. Cell changes can develop on the cervix that, if not found in time and treated, can lead to cervical cancer. Cervical cancer can almost always be prevented with a regular check-up.

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) Campus Health invited female students to book Pap smear appointments in each campus. This created awareness, as several students were asking about what the test was and whether they qualify or not.

Females from the ages of 21 to 65 years old are advised to have regular cervical tests as part of a routine health care. Females without a cervix because of a hysterectomy, who also have no history of abnormal Pap results or cervical cancer, do not have to have a Pap smear. However, one should speak to her doctor before having a Pap smear, for careful consideration.

Women’s Health.gov advises that women who do not have history of cervical cancer or abnormal Pap test results and are between the ages of 21 and 29 to:

  • have a Pap smear once every 3 years
  • between ages 30 and 64, you should get a Pap test and human Papillomavirus (HPV) test together every 5 years or a Pap test alone every 3 years.


There are things that can cause an incorrect test result. So, for two days before the test, one should not:


  • Use tampons
  • Use vaginal creams, suppositories, or medicines
  • Use vaginal deodorant sprays or powders
  • Have sex
  • Douche


One should always have a Pap smear done when one is not on their period.
by Siphosethu Jim


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