If you haven’t been before and have ignored / quietly forgotten your invite letters – this fear is mixed with a certain amount of guilt. You know you should go, you hear it all the time. But then you also hear “it’s not painful, it’s just uncomfortable” and lots of other very un-encouraging phrases. After a while, it seems easier just to push it to one side and not think about it. You certainly stop raising that you haven’t yet been when you get tired of facing the shock face of your friend, who again provides the very un-reassuring patter of how ‘uncomfortable’ it is, even if not actually painful. And besides, you feel great, chances are, you’re fine, aren’t you?!
Well, probably. But, there are a couple of very big reasons why you need to go….
Firstly, Cervical Cancer is very often symptom free. It is also the most common cancer for women under 35. Combine both of those factors and ‘feeling fine’ isn’t enough to justify avoiding Cervical Screening.
Secondly, Cervical Screening isn’t only to pick up actual full on cancerous changes. It can pick up other abnormalities which may, or may not lead to Cervical Cancer.
How can you know if these abnormalities affect you?
You can’t, unless you attend for Cervical Screening.
‘Abnormalities’ are much more normal than the name suggests and affect lots and lots of women. They can be easily treated, or monitored, to make sure they’re not changing into anything else.
Long before Cervical Cancer is detected, Cervical Screening can pick up on any changes up to 10 years before a diagnosis. This is the difference between simple treatment and cancer treatment. Being realistic, it’s nothing short of life saving.
So what made me finally attend my first Cervical Screening?
I just bit the bullet and went. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t like the thought if it at all. But some things you just have to do and the worry was getting a bit much. We’re so lucky to have access to a Cervical Screening programme as part of the NHS, I felt that if I didn’t go and missed an opportunity for treatment – well, it just doesn’t bear thinking about.
So I went. And guess what? It was absolutely fine. Better than fine – very quick. So quick I was surprised when the Nurse said she’d finished. Definitely not painful. And in terms of uncomfortable, only as much as your average GP appointment.
If I was allowed, I’d book in every year from this point forward and I haven’t missed one screening appointment since – which is interesting, because once you start going, you’ll never understand why it took you so long to go in the first place!
Every woman understands why the prospect of Cervical Screening is scary, but it is much less scary when you consider that it is a wonderful opportunity to monitor our bodies and what is going on in there. If we can stop anything before it develops, then that is a massive bonus.
#GynaeMonth is the perfect time to make that push and go for your first Cervical Screening appointment, reassured that millions of other women will be doing the same.
And what’s the worst that can happen? You find out about something a long time in advance and you receive early treatment. Which means a better outcome for you.
And if you’re like me, you’ll be chatting away with your Nurse so much it’ll be over before you even realise it!
If you want to know more about Cervical Screening, contact Jo’s Trust and see their very helpful website www.jostrust.org.uk/about-cervical-cancer/cervical-screening-smear-test-and-abnormal-cells/cervical-screening-in-the-uk