I’ve written previously about what involved during a smear test, getting your results & any treatment that may be required, which you can read here.
In the UK, the NHS estimates that around 5 million women are overdue for their cervical screening. The number of women undergoing their routine smear tests is worrying at a 21-year low.
In an attempt to combat this, there have been increasing media and health authority campaigns. In addition, it’s been suggested that a DIY screening kit may be made available by the end of 2019 (though I’ve no idea how one would physically achieve this themselves!) along with a change in provider from Capita, who have made a series of blunders of late, including the failure to send invites to 50,000 patients in 2018.
Sadly, the influx of campaigns to encourage women to get their smears has coincided with the closure of laboratories running the test results. This has meant that for many, the wait may be far longer than the anticipated 2 weeks from the time of the test, to the time of receiving a letter in the mail with your results.
There are various possible reasons for the low uptake, from fear, embarrassment and thinking they have no symptoms, to believing it’s not useful or simply not getting around to it.
Some conditions, including the likes of a tilted uterus or pelvic floor dysfunction, can make these tests more uncomfortable, sometimes very painful. Nurses are trained to act with compassion and consideration, so if you have any concerns, voice them before the test and speak up if you need the doc to stop at any point. Don’t feel like you’re at the mercy of a nightmare nurse or doctor; they should try to make it as quick and comfortable as possible.
If you have the ability to be screened, please do consider it. If you’re experiencing any worrying symptoms and you haven’t been invited to a screening, such as if you’re under 25 in the UK, please persevere; you know your body and too many women are slipping through the net without checks.
I had my follow-up smear recently to check everything is okay (fingers crossed) since my treatment the other year for abnormal high grade cell changes. Granted, it’s not the most pleasant thing you’ll have done, but it could be one of the most important.