In the UK, we’re lucky to be offered cervical screening tests (previously called a ‘smear test’) every one to five years and yet, 1 in 3 women don’t take up the invite.
The main reasons include fear, embarrassment, not believing the test helps reduce the risk of cervical cancer, not wanting to get undressed in front of a healthcare professional and simply putting it off.
Every woman who chooses not to take up her smear test has her own valid reasons but the cervical screening test really can save lives. It can flag up existing complications you may not have known about (like HPV or PCOS) as well as detect early stages of cervical cancer. Sadly, the uptake is falling. Each year, fewer women accept their invitation to the screening, meaning fewer women will identify potential problems early on. And whilst discovering these issues can be scary, with knowledge comes power.
So with this in mind, I’m embarking on a series of blog posts about different women’s experiences of the cervical screening test. Each woman I write about has expressed her full consent to share her story and some names will be changed, as requested. The aim is to accurately portray the process from being invited to a smear test, booking an appointment, having the test and finding out the results. Not everyone’s results come back with positive news and the stories I share will reflect this.
Ultimately, I’d like to inform readers and hope any woman nervously Googling ‘cervical screening’ finds these stories helpful. Like all my posts, I promise to be honest because when things don’t go to plan being told ‘it will be absolutely fine’ makes the bad news that much worse.
Thank you to everyone who kindly shared their experiences with me. If you’d like to get involved, drop me a message.
In addition to the links in this post, further information can be found at: