It saddens me every time I see the ‘pop-up’ message in the corner of my computer consultation screen saying that the woman in front of me is overdue her cervical screening. I often think to myself why it might be – does she know its overdue?? Is she scared?? Has she heard some ‘horror story’ from someone down the road??
So I mention it, and offer to do it there and then (which is why my surgeries are always running late!!). And if not there and then, I offer to book her another appointment for it.
But I worry more about the women I don’t see, and don’t get that opportunity to help them. The recent statistics on cervical screening take-up don’t make good reading. The levels are at an all time low, particularly in the 25-30 year age group.
So why is this? Fears about pain, embarrassment and not knowing what to expect are often cited as reasons for non-attendance.
I particularly love this doodle by betamummy which I feel sums up what most women feel when they come for their test….
But hopefully we can change this! I do hope the new NHS campaign encourages more women to attend. They are moving away from using the phrase ‘smear test’ to try and change women’s attitude towards the test . I think this is a good move – the word ‘smear’ doesn’t exactly sound all that enticing (and to be honest we haven’t actually done smears – when the sample taken was physically smeared on to a slide – since 2004!)
But if you are still worried, speak to your nurse or doctor about it. There are lots of things that can be done to make it feel less daunting. And please don’t let embarrassment be the reason you don’t attend – I honestly couldn’t care less about what things look like down there, whether you’ve shaved your legs, or even what your socks look like!! And no matter how bad you think things might be, it definitely won’t be the worst thing we’ll have seen that day – not even close!!