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Why your smear test shouldn’t be avoided

1
Why is it that a forty-something-year-old mum (me) is still scared of having a smear test? I’ve had two children, experienced terrible pain during and after birth and yet the thought of that couch and those scary utensils (technical term) fills me with fear. I don’t like the probing, I don’t like the worry about the results and I don’t like that I lay there clenched up rigid in fear even though the nurse will beg me to relax. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone, and with one in three women in the UK missing their smear tests, we have to support
SelfishMother.com
2
each other to attend. A short, albeit uncomfortable examination, is surely worth it to detect any abnormalities?
Avoiding smear tests
In the UK five million women are overdue a smear test. Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust research findings report that one in three women miss their test due to embarrassment or the view that they are healthy and a test isn’t required. Some didn’t attend because they didn’t want to take time off work, miss the gym or wouldn’t attend without having a bikini wax. While I remember my paranoia about giving birth without
SelfishMother.com
3
having the relevant beauty procedures first, by the time I was in labour and screaming at everyone in the room, a lack of ‘Neatness’ was the last thing on my mind.
Nurses have seen it all
The nurses who carry out smear tests aren’t judging your non-existent Brazilian. We have to get past flimsy excuses and encourage women to attend without embarrassment. These numbers have to change as currently over three thousand women a year are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the UK and almost nine hundred will die. An overgrown lady garden should not be
SelfishMother.com
4
the reason for unnecessary deaths.
How often?
The guidelines by the NHS suggest that women aged between 25 and 49 should have a smear test every three years. Those aged 50 to 64 will be invited every 5 years. ‘Invited’ is an interesting word used by the NHS. You aren’t forced to go, no one will drag you into your nearest surgery for a test. It’s your decision and while fear, embarrassment or denial may prevent women from attending, perhaps a lack of information also plays an important part and further education is essential. A smear test or
SelfishMother.com
5
cervical screening, does not test for cancer, it is a test to check the health of your cervix and help to prevent cancer.
During the test
During the test, a small sample of cells from your cervix will be taken and then tested. Results of your text will be sent by letter in about two weeks. In my opinion, a smear test doesn’t hurt, it’s mainly uncomfortable. Every nurse I’ve ever seen during a smear test has been understanding, down-to-earth and nonjudgemental. They do this every day, many times a day. They are not judging you or your bits. They
SelfishMother.com
6
will tell you how to position yourself and how to try and relax. I generally find laughter throughout and the cursing of men for not having smear tests helps. A lot.
What is HPV?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the name for a common group of viruses and some types can result in cervix cell changes, but it’s not restricted to the cervix. It is commonly passed on through sexual contact and lives on our skin so it’s hard to protect against it. Almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV infection. Last year HPV testing during the cervical screening
SelfishMother.com
7
was introduced in England as part of cervical screening. The overall screening test is the same apart from a sample of cervical cells which is now taken to be tested for high-risk HPV.

According to charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, 75% of cervical cancers could be avoided with smear tests and that is surely enough to shock us into having a test or encouraging others to have one. It’s not going to be like a trip to an all-inclusive Caribbean island without the kids (that’s my idea of heaven), but it’s a necessary evil. So, make booking your

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8
test a priority over your waxing appointment.
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smear test

- 10 Mar 20

Why is it that a forty-something-year-old mum (me) is still scared of having a smear test? I’ve had two children, experienced terrible pain during and after birth and yet the thought of that couch and those scary utensils (technical term) fills me with fear. I don’t like the probing, I don’t like the worry about the results and I don’t like that I lay there clenched up rigid in fear even though the nurse will beg me to relax. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone, and with one in three women in the UK missing their smear tests, we have to support each other to attend. A short, albeit uncomfortable examination, is surely worth it to detect any abnormalities?

Avoiding smear tests

In the UK five million women are overdue a smear test. Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust research findings report that one in three women miss their test due to embarrassment or the view that they are healthy and a test isn’t required. Some didn’t attend because they didn’t want to take time off work, miss the gym or wouldn’t attend without having a bikini wax. While I remember my paranoia about giving birth without having the relevant beauty procedures first, by the time I was in labour and screaming at everyone in the room, a lack of ‘Neatness’ was the last thing on my mind.

Nurses have seen it all

The nurses who carry out smear tests aren’t judging your non-existent Brazilian. We have to get past flimsy excuses and encourage women to attend without embarrassment. These numbers have to change as currently over three thousand women a year are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the UK and almost nine hundred will die. An overgrown lady garden should not be the reason for unnecessary deaths.

How often?

The guidelines by the NHS suggest that women aged between 25 and 49 should have a smear test every three years. Those aged 50 to 64 will be invited every 5 years. ‘Invited’ is an interesting word used by the NHS. You aren’t forced to go, no one will drag you into your nearest surgery for a test. It’s your decision and while fear, embarrassment or denial may prevent women from attending, perhaps a lack of information also plays an important part and further education is essential. A smear test or cervical screening, does not test for cancer, it is a test to check the health of your cervix and help to prevent cancer.

During the test

During the test, a small sample of cells from your cervix will be taken and then tested. Results of your text will be sent by letter in about two weeks. In my opinion, a smear test doesn’t hurt, it’s mainly uncomfortable. Every nurse I’ve ever seen during a smear test has been understanding, down-to-earth and nonjudgemental. They do this every day, many times a day. They are not judging you or your bits. They will tell you how to position yourself and how to try and relax. I generally find laughter throughout and the cursing of men for not having smear tests helps. A lot.

What is HPV?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the name for a common group of viruses and some types can result in cervix cell changes, but it’s not restricted to the cervix. It is commonly passed on through sexual contact and lives on our skin so it’s hard to protect against it. Almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV infection. Last year HPV testing during the cervical screening was introduced in England as part of cervical screening. The overall screening test is the same apart from a sample of cervical cells which is now taken to be tested for high-risk HPV.

According to charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, 75% of cervical cancers could be avoided with smear tests and that is surely enough to shock us into having a test or encouraging others to have one. It’s not going to be like a trip to an all-inclusive Caribbean island without the kids (that’s my idea of heaven), but it’s a necessary evil. So, make booking your test a priority over your waxing appointment.

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Corporate to Kids

Who: Sarah - Queen of self-deprecation Job: from corporate HR career to Mum, Writer and Blogger Children: two boys with a 13 month age gap!! Obsessions: writing, Haribos, rainbows, coffee, fizz

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