Cervical health – Pandora's Health

We need to talk about cervical smears

1 in 4 women miss their cervical smear test. Sadly, they’re skipping it because of body confidence issues. This needs to change, as it can literally save lives.

Did you know that half of us in the UK will be affected by cancer in our lifetime? When the odds seem so stacked against us, it’s crucial to be vigilant and take care of our health. One of the easiest ways to do this is to attend regular cancer screenings.

For women aged 25 and over, this means that you need to have a cervical smear test. This is to check the state of the cells in your cervix (the ‘gateway’ into the womb from the vagina) to see if they are pre-cancerous. Cervical cancer doesn’t have any symptoms in its early stages. This means testing can catch cellular changes early on and literally saves lives.

So why are 25% of women skipping it?  

Cervical cancer - Pandora's Health

Their reasons are heartbreaking

In a recent survey, young women said they skipped their test because of:

  • Body confidence – including the shape of their vulva
  • Worries about smell
  • Lack of bikini waxing or shaving

To me, this is a sign that there’s something seriously wrong with how we see and treat women’s sexual organs.

In our efforts to follow what is considered to be ‘attractive’ and what isn’t, we are letting beauty standards literally dictate our health. This is nothing new of course, but we’re talking about a preventable cancer here.

We’ve been conditioned about how we should look. We’ve been led to believe that we need to follow certain ideals. We’re suffering in the quest for ‘perfection’. In our efforts to look our ‘best’ on the outside, we’re not paying attention to what’s happening inside.

When I saw these statistics, I was disappointed but not surprised. We’ve all felt the pressure to look a certain way down there in order to please someone or society. We’re told that waxing/shaving is more hygienic (not really…you can tear your skin and irritate it), attractive (not necessarily) and that pubic hair isn’t natural on a woman (really? We’ve obviously evolved to have it for some reason).

We have so many people telling us about how our lady parts should look and smell. And it’s ruining our health.

It doesn’t stop there

Dr Jen Gunter is a gynaecologist with a brilliant blog, and she’s seen cases of people using Vicks VapoRub on their vaginas and vulvas, because they don’t think they smell right. But here’s the thing, vaginas have a natural scent, just like the rest of our bodies! FYI, don’t use VapoRub, it has some nasty affects below the belt.

Labiaplasties – aka Designer Vaginas – are also on the rise. This is fuelled by social media and pornography (remember guys and gals, porn is fine but it is a fantasy) and a lot of young, impressionable women are now thinking that there’s something wrong with them.

Your nurse is interested in your health, not your wax

Cacti

I was guilty of holding off my smear test for a couple of months. I’d just started a new job and didn’t want to take the morning off to for my test. But, after some severe nagging from my best friend, I bit the bullet and phoned my surgery. They scheduled an appointment before work, so I had actually been worrying about nothing.

When I arrived, the nurse went through the test with me, then asked me to get ready and lay on the table. She covered my lower body with a sheet and…the test was over in less than a minute.

Was it comfortable? Not really. But it was over before I knew it. I went to work and two weeks later, my results arrived. Everything is fine!

The thing about nurses who perform cervical smears, or any sort of procedure or appointment, is that they are trained professionals. They’ve seen it all, and they don’t care what shape your pubes have been waxed into. They care about your health and wellbeing.

So ladies, please, don’t be afraid of booking your test! You are amazing the way you are.

Think of it this way. When you’re older and look back at your life – what will you regret more, skipping a waxing appointment, or skipping a cancer screening?


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15 Comments

  1. Love this post! We all dread the smear test but it’s so important! I’m 31 and have had quite a few smears and still get a bit nervous but try and remember that it’s all over very quickly and the nurses couldn’t care less what you look like down there! They’re not going to be gossiping about your pubes in the break room over lunch!

    Like

    1. Thank you! I first heard about this when the Smear For Smear campaign came out, and I couldn’t believe it! Hopefully things will improve and women will get the screening that they need.

      Like

  2. I’m glad I came across this blog. It’s important for men to take the time to understand some of the struggles of women. You are not appreciated enough. You are strong and your are beautiful (that goes for every woman who might read this comment).

    Like

  3. We had a discussion with my dad and sister about going to cervical/prostate exams after watching a report on the news, and thankfully each of us said that whilst it might be awkward, it’s for your own health. I’m turning 25 next year, and one of the first things I want to do is book a smear. I’d rather feel a little unfortable for a few minutes, then face cancer!

    Ellyn x | Life Of A Beauty Nerd

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We had a discussion with my dad and sister about going to cervical/prostate exams after watching a report on the news, and thankfully each of us said that whilst it might be awkward, it’s for your own health. I’m turning 25 next year, and one of the first things I want to do is book a smear. I’d rather feel a little unfortable for a few minutes, then face cancer!

    Ellyn x | Life Of A Beauty Nerd

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s so sad that women’s bodies have been policed so much we are actively avoiding health care because of it. The weight of how we ‘should’ look/be is placing those of us who feel this way at unnecessary risk — not to mention that those of us who don’t always have access to universal health care.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Such an important post – it’s so shocking that so many women put it off because they worry about how they look down there. I always think the nurse doing them is probably doing similar tests for the entire day, so your bits are probably going to be one of many! I’ve seen that a few beauty salons now offer free or reduced price waxing for anyone who is booked in for their smear which is great if it encourages more women to get it done. Ultimately though we definitely shouldn’t be embarrassed, it’s an important health screening that could potentially save your life! Great post and a really important message 😊

    Like

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