Many women find discussing cervical screening uncomfortable or embarrassing, but the significance of the well-known “smear test” is tenfold. Governments and health organizations have both been tackling misconceptions and myths via public campaigns.
There are various reasons why women decide against having a cervical screening. One common reason being the misunderstanding that the test is for cancer when in fact it is not. It is a test to aid in the fight against cancer.
During a cervical cancer screening, a small sample of your cervix’s cells are removed in order to look for any abnormalities. Abnormalities such as those brought on by an HPV variant that may eventually turn malignant. Early detection of these abnormalities allows for monitoring or treatment, preventing the development of cervical cancer.
We understand that women may delay getting tested out of shame or fear. However, it is crucial to understand what the test is for, and what the findings signify. So you can decide whether or not to go with confidence.
The following are some typical obstacles that prevent women from getting a cervical screening:
Information gaps about cervical cancer and the goal of cervical screening
Women must understand the importance of the screenings they are requested to attend. Many women’s initial response when they see or hear the term “cancer,” is to push the undesirable thoughts aside.
The goal of the screening however, is to uncover early warning symptoms that if caught in time, can help reduce the likelihood of cervical cancer ever occurring. If precancerous cells are found early enough, cervical cancer can be prevented and treated. It’s one of the finest things you can do for yourself as a woman to try to prevent cervical cancer.
This is a popular and very reasonable explanation. You could consider it indecent or worry about how you appear to people “down there.” However, the nurse really doesn’t give any thought to the aesthetics of your undercarriage! They will make every effort to put you at ease and expedite the procedure because they are aware that you may be worried.
The actual exam only takes a few seconds or, at most, a few minutes. You can then get back on your feet and take a quiet minute to put your underpants back on. We advise ladies to dress in a long skirt or t-shirt so they may immediately cover themselves before putting their pants back on.
Fear of pain
This is a completely normal response, but while some women may feel slight discomfort (similar to monthly cramps), you should not suffer any pain. Inform the nurse if you do so. She might be able to make you more comfortable, and if you’d like, she can halt the process at any point. The nurse will explain everything she’s doing during the test so that you understand what’s happening.
Apprehension that the test may reveal a cervical cancer diagnosis
Precancerous cells, which might be early indicators of cervical cancer, are what the test is intended to find. They can thus be treated or removed in order to stop the development of cancer. Cervical cancer is seldom discovered with screening. Remember that your risk is still minimal if you have never had a smear test and are concerned that by getting one, you could be diagnosed with cancer.
Inconvenient access to cervical cancer screening and appointment times
This is pretty common especially in more remote areas. However, it’s important to remember that if you don’t have access to a nurse in your immediate environment, there are other avenues to access screening. One of such methods is to book an appointment by downloading the Whispa App.
The Aura of Invincibility
There are a number of misconceptions around whether or not cervical screening is necessary. Perhaps the biggest myth is that it’s just for women who are sexually active, so if you’re a virgin, or you’ve stopped having sex, or you’ve only had sexual contact with another woman you don’t need to be tested. To be absolutely clear, this is NOT the case!
The general rule is that women, aged 25 to 64, are at risk of cervical cancer and should go for cervical screening. There are usually only two valid reasons for not attending. The first is if you’re pregnant – because it can make it difficult to interpret the results. The second is if you’ve had a surgical procedure to remove your cervix, e.g. total hysterectomy, so the test is unnecessary.
Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that many women feel empowered as a result of being screened and are motivated to defend and uplift other women.
We hope that by providing this information, more women will be motivated to accept invitations for cervical screenings and to keep their appointments. And the more the better if they can inspire anyone else they care about to do the same.
Download the Whispa app to book a cervical cancer screening appointment test today! Click here