You can provide these resources to patients to help them before, during and post screening. See the full resource library.
Before screening appointment
- Easy Read guide explaining the choices available for having a Cervical Screening Test
- Video explaining the choices available for having a Cervical Screening Test
During screening appointment
- Instructional video on how to take a Cervical Screening Test sample
- Visual guide on how to collect your own vaginal sample for a Cervical Screening Test
Post screening appointment
For health care providers
You can use these resources to prepare for an appointment with a patient who has experienced female genital cutting (FGC), also known as traditional cutting, female genital mutilation, female circumcision.
Female genital cutting (FGC) and cervical screening – a guide for practitioners.
Twenty-nine countries around the world practice female genital cutting. It is most prevalent in Africa (particularly Somalia, Guinea, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Mali, Sierra Leone, and Sudan). Some parts of the Middle East and Asia also take part in the practice
People are increasingly migrating to Australia from countries that practice female genital cutting. About 120,000 migrant women in Australia who have undergone the practice in their countries of birth. Often these countries do not have organised cervical screening programs.
In Australia, there is a low uptake of preventive health services by African women. People from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are less likely to have Cervical Screening Tests.
Women who have experienced female genital cutting may face barriers to screening associated with psychological trauma, pain (real or anticipated) and embarrassment. Women who have experienced type 3 FGC (where the labia have been sewn together to make the vaginal opening smaller) may physically be unable to have a speculum examination. Similarly, for women who have genetic abnormality/dysmorphia of the vagina where the opening is too small to introduce even the smallest speculum.
Self-collection is an important and potentially a more comfortable and acceptable option for these women.
Healthcare providers will need to use their judgement to determine if and when to ask about FGC. While the practice of FGC may conflict with your own value system, it is important not to show judgement in your words or reactions. Do not use the term ‘mutilation’ or make comparisons to ‘normal’ genitals.
There are general barriers and barriers specific to people from CALD backgrounds that people face in participating in cervical screening. People who have experienced female genital cutting can face extra barries relating to:
- psychological trauma of female genital cutting
- pain due to scar tissue and infection
- anticipation that the cervical screening test will be painful/uncomfortable/difficult
- lack of knowledge of the availability, importance, options and benefits of cancer screening
- negative cultural perceptions about cancer – for example fatalistic and superstitious attitudes (i.e. cancer is the will of God) – which may lead some people to perceive cervical screening as unnecessary
- embarrassment associated with female genital cutting (i.e. anticipating the healthcare provider to have a shocked reaction)
- language, communication and literacy difficulties
- fear of the test
- lack of availability of female healthcare providers.
- difficulties accessing and navigating the Australian healthcare system (particularly, newly arrived patients)
- competing priorities such as employment, housing and family, particularly newly arrived patients.
Ways to engage
The following strategies are effective in engaging women who have experienced female genital cutting in cervical screening.
Make the procedure as comfortable as possible
Choice of screening method
Choice of cervical screening provider