This week is Cervical Cancer Awareness Week so I wanted to share some helpful stories from other women to get the conversation going about cervical screenings, or, commonly known as Smear tests. Throughout 22nd – 28th January you might see a lot of lipstick smeared selfies across social media and this is to encourage people to talk about smears and most importantly go and have their cervical screening. I’ve had two since turning 25, I’m no expert but I know what to expect. The years before I turned 25, despite having a baby at 21, was full of anxiety about my first cervical screening but when I got the letter through inviting me to make an appointment I did.
I remember getting that first letter and leaflet and thought how strange it was that I was being invited to a cervical screening. It’s not really the kind of party you want to attend but it’s the kind of invitation you should always, always RSVP with a big fat YES! Get it done, get yourself checked out, have the screening and be on your merry way. At least then, whatever the results, you didn’t just leave it. It shocks me to learn that women just aren’t going to their screenings when it’s the biggest cancer killer for women under 35. 2 women die every day from Cervical Cancer and that just breaks my heart – but it makes me glad that each time I’ve got that letter, I’ve made the appointment, dropped my knickers and chatted to the nurse about how many she’s done (I think I was number 960 – she seems pretty qualified!)
Here in the England women are invited to their first cervical screening around the time they turn 25. There are plenty of campaigns to have this age restriction lowered as it is in other parts of the UK. A cervical screening or smear test is taking my swabbing some of the cells from your cervix. It can’t tell you if you have cancer, but what it can do is check to see if you’re cervix is healthy, has any abnormal cells such as HPV which can sometimes lead to cervical cancer. It’s important to note that there are 100’s of different types of HPV which is why it’s so important to get that smear test done as soon as you can. It takes a while for the cells to change which is why you go back every three years. These cells are sent off to check for abnormalities and over the years as you have more they are checking for changes and abnormalities. They’re quick, uncomfortable but not necessarily painful, and usually take place at your GP’s surgery by the nurse.
The appointment in my area lasts for around 40 minutes and the majority of that chat is talking about general health. We spoke a lot about my weight and BMI, general concerns and a quick look over my medical history – despite being fat I’m relatively healthy and don’t really go to the doctors for anything. I was then given the privacy to undress – I always opt for a cotton or jersey style dress, leggings and big ass comfy cotton knickers. It takes just a few minutes of lying back with a big bright light at your lady bits, some discomfort, a swab and your done. A few minutes of your time that can safe your life. I said above I’ve been lucky enough to have regular results but some of my blogger friends have experienced a bit more. I wanted to share more stories with you to help you see just why Smear tests are so important and why, if you’re due one, you should book in right now!
Twinderelmo talks about abnormal results and the fascination of watching a colposcopy.
Evan Angels Fall shares why she welcomes smear tests and encourages you to do the same.
Whinge Whinge Wine shares her story about abnormal results and what to expect if you have to get checked again.
Through Ami’s Eyes talks all about her nerves for her first smear test and how her nurse made her feel relaxed and reassured.
Mimi Rose and Me gets open about Smear Fear
Emma Reed has got together with a group of ladies to share more Smear for Smear selfies and about how we have to get our lady bits looked after!
Pass the Processco talks openly about her Cervical screenings including having one post-partum and dealing with PCOS.
I hope the stories above help to show you that a cervical screening is just a way of looking after your body and having a health check. It’s important to get it done, it might be a bit embarrassing but ultimately, it’s five minutes of your life. Five minutes that could tell you if you’re at risk of developing cervical cancer.
How to get involved – Check Out Jos Trust for more information
When you share your #SmearForSmear make sure you tell people why you’re doing it. Here are some example posts you can use to let people know what the campaign is about, remember to tag us!
- Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35, yet one in three young women don’t attend their smear test. I’m supporting @JoTrust (Twitter) / @joscervicalcancertrust (Instagram) and sharing my #SmearForSmear because every woman should know that smear tests save lives. Attend your smear test, #ReduceYourRisk
- The number of women attending smear tests is falling. I’m supporting @JoTrust (Twitter) / @joscervicalcancertrust (Instagram) and sharing my #SmearForSmear because I want every woman to know that smear tests save lives
- Attend your smear test; reduce your risk of cervical cancer. Here’s my #SmearForSmear for @JoTrust (Twitter) / @joscervicalcancertrust (Instagram) to encourage more women to go to their smear test
- I’m supporting @JoTrust (twitter) / @joscervicalcancertrust (Instagram) with a #SmearForSmear selfie because 1 in 4 women do not attend their smear test. Attend your smear test to #ReduceYourRisk of cervical cancer.