Cervical Cancer Awareness

Regular readers will know that I teach in a secondary school and we will all remember the rite of passage thanks some kind of injection at school causing large numbers of fainters, dead arms and tears. In a mixed school where only the girls are having jabs this is also the opportunity for the boys to be horrible to the girls and wind them up for at least a week beforehand. As a teacher, I knew the very basics…the jabs that the girls have now are something to do with cervical cancer. That was enough to be able to bring the boys down when they started acting like prats.

I now know more! (and feel bad that I didn’t know before Dr Pixie taught me all about it)

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The jabs are for HPV strains 16 and 18. HPV is the Human Papilloma Virus and the cause of 99.7% of cervical cancers. The injection is providing some protection against cervical cancer but it doesn’t have all the answers. What shocked me more was the number of grown women (aged 25 plus) who do not go for their smear tests or who delay their appointments (just hold on, that whopper is coming up).

Why is it important to have your smear test?

It is the most effective way of preventing cervical cancer as it detects any early changes in the cervix.  More than 4,000 lives are saved every year with the NHS National Screening Programme. And damn it, we have a national free screening programme that we can all access – not everyone has this!

Robert Music, chief executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, says, ‘It’s vital that women attend their NHS smear test, but there have been excellent results from HPV self-testing trials, which we hope to be taken up by the NHS in the future’.

What do we actually think about smear tests?

Well, most of us are not fans… shocker! Some of the words that we discussed when we got together were that people were “scared”, “embarrassed”, “memorable” and that some people felt like they were losing their “dignity”.  None of the ideas discussed were particularly positive.

It’s so bad, that one third of women are not turning up for their smear tests and the average number of days that a woman is late in attending an appointment is 700 days! My jaw hit the floor at that figure! I was about 10 months late in attending my first appointment for 2 reasons. I didn’t really think that it would be an enjoyable experience and I used work as an excuse not to go. I couldn’t have time out of work for it and couldn’t get in after school hours so I just delayed. Having just had my second appointment, I was much calmer and rational about it, knowing how important it is.  It was painless, not at all embarrassing, though having given birth that *area* is far less sacred than it was 2 years ago!

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What are really your options as precautions against cervical cancer?

  • If you have younger daughters, then their options start much earlier than they did for a lot of us.  In high school, they are offered the HPV vaccination will work against HPV strains 16 and 18.  This does not eliminate all risk and chance of getting cervical cancer but they are some of the highest risk strains. They will still need to have smear tests because it doesn’t cover all strains of the virus.
  • HPV home testing kit – now this is ideal for those people who genuinely find it difficult to get to the doctors or extremely uncomfortable in that environment.  Some groups of women have been marginalised such as the transgender community, the lesbian community and women who find themselves too busy to fit the traditional doctors surgery opening times.  There is no excuse for not helping yourselves out. The new HPV home testing kit from GynaeCheck is incredibly easy to use – I’ll explain more in a moment!
  • Go and have your smear! Man up, stop shying away from it and get it done!

What is so easy about the GynaeCheck test?

  • It can be done in the comfort of your own home, in your own time, at whatever time of day!
  • There is no pain at all as it is not removing any samples from your cervix.
  • It is easy to send back as it comes with an addressed box ready to go.
  • It is checking for the most common and high risk forms of HPV.
  • Having done it myself, I would recommend it as an easy way of covering your back if you feel like you aren’t going to be able to get to the doctor for whatever reason. The results come back within 10 days of the lab receiving it and can be copied to your doctor so that they can support you with any necessary follow ups.
  • You order the package (all discreetly put together) online here to be delivered wherever, it should go through your letterbox but you may want to make sure it doesn’t get into stray hands and have it delivered to work – no-one would know!
    screener

    Easy to use, no pain and you can do it at home… winning!

    How do you feel about having your smear? Do you run there with glee or do you hold back and avoid it for as long as possible?

Mummascribbles

Mama-andmore
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21 thoughts on “Cervical Cancer Awareness

  1. I have always been good and had my smears but the last 2 years I’ve had abnormal cells so had to go for a colposcopy to keep an eye on them. It worries me if I hadn’t gone initially what could have happened. It’s so important to go. I’m back in November so hoping I’ll finally be signed off and “back to normal”

  2. I found out 12 months ago that my best friend had never been for one – I am telling her about this. I’m livid with her to be honest #TriedTested

  3. Great post. Many females still need educating it seems. I cannot get my head round why people don’t have the test done when it is potentially life saving. Thanks for sharing #TwinklyTuesday

  4. Great posts! I don’t understand why there are still a few women out there who refused to go for smear test when it’s actually for their own advantage. I know it can be uncomfortable, but for like 2 mins that can can save ones life, it’s totally worth it. #mummyandus

  5. I had 2 colposcopies in my early 20’s and never miss a smear now. Having my children has totally removed my shame so I don’t really care if a nurse looks at my lady garden, and I desperately want to watch my children grow up! I didn’t actually know much about the HPV injections. Good info #twinklytuesday

  6. You are so lucky here to have this test for free as in my country we have to pay. And this is not a priority when you are barely surviving on your wage. That is why I am very religious in attending my smear test when they came as I know they are important! This is such a nice read =) #TwinklyTuesday

  7. I spent quite some time trying to explain to some Yr 8 boys who couldn’t quite grasp why only girls had this jab, & why couldn’t they have it?!!

    I did a lot of biting my cheek to stifle the giggles, bless ’em!

    It’s a good job I’ve taught sex ed for years alongside the other stuff!

    • I did also find out that the boys carry HPV just the same way as the girls, it’s just the effect of certain strains on girls which causes the cancer. The boys are part of the spreading of the HPV though

  8. Really glad you took the time to write this post! I have a pap test once a year, yes it’s a little uncomfortable but I have to be a role model to my girls #mummyandus

  9. Great post, it’s not a pleasent experience but you gotta just put your ankles together and drop at the knees! My daughter is 11 and I will be making sure that she is educated in the importance of this subject! Thanks for writing it x

  10. I actually don’t mind having my smear tests done, of course it’s not the most pleasant of experiences but it only takes two minutes and it can be a life saving test. The positives highly outweigh the negatives.

    The amount of females I know that haven’t ever had one is actually mind blowing and I don’t understand why you wouldn’t.

    Laura.x

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