HPV home kits for cervical cancer: TAMPAP launch
We're all guilty of putting our smear to the bottom of our to do list, after all, even the word itself sounds like something nasty. But they are vitally important and all women over the age of 25 should have them once every three years.
In a bid to encourage more women to take care of their cervix, TAMPAP has launched a home-testing kit which detects whether or not you have the HPV virus (which can lead to cancer) and whether you are 'at risk.'
The British Journal of Cancer has said home HPV kits can help "increase the take-up of cervical screening among women who don't respond to screening invitations," and we have to admit the ease and discretion of an at-home kit certainly makes it easier for us to take control of our bodies.
And with 99.7 per cent of cervical cancer cases caused by certain strains of HPV, the TAMPAP test makes it nice and easy to check yourself and get on with your life.
We're able to check our boobs for lumps and bumps in the privacy of our bathrooms, so it makes sense we can do the same for our cervix.
What is HPV?
There are over 100 strains of the HPV virus (aka human papillomavirus) which in some cases is sexually transmitted (and can lead to genital warts). Usually your body is able to clear the virus naturally, but this is not always the case.
Certain aggressive strains of HPV, when left unchecked, can cause changes to your cervix that can ultimately lead to cervical cancer. And no one wants that.
So how does the TAMPAP test work?
Just the mere mention of the C word is enough to turn our stomachs, but testing at home is at least easier to do, and a good deal more dignified too.
TAMPAP is a wonderfully simple concept. You simply register on the TAMPAP website and your test is sent to you. All you need to provide is a tampon which you must use when you are not menstruating.
Simply insert the tampon and wait for at least five minutes before removing it. The tampon will have a sample of your vaginal cells on it, which the TAMPAP laboratory can test once you've sent your sample back to them.
Results are ready within 10-14 days and you can keep a check on your results by using their online service. The box and packaging is discrete too, so you don't have to advertise your cervical concerns to your local Posty.
Deep down we know it's not exciting. It's a tampon and a lab test. But we like to think of it as taking control.
Dr. Christen Jessen, of Channel 4's Embarrassing Bodies says: "If you've had a negative test result then it gives you peace of mind, but if you have a positive result then it could help save your life in the future."
Once your results are back the site takes care of all the next steps, on whether or not to visit your doctor, along with a host of other info on cervical health.
While a home kit shouldn't replace your smear appointments, it's a good way to keep in the know about your cervix in between appointments. And let's face it - a home kit gives us one less thing to worry about.
The TAMPAP test costs £49.90, available from TAMPAP.