CityX Taboo Topics: Cervical Screenings

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With some topics difficult to talk about, CityX has launched its Taboo Topics feature, aiming to discuss things that may not always come up in conversation, but are important to discuss.

More commonly and historically known as a Smear Test, Cervical Screenings test for traces of the HPV virus in the cervix, an infection which certain types can lead to cervical cancer.

Testing begins at 25-year-old, and then, providing tests come back normal, tests take place every 3-5 years.

At the age of 24, our Features Editor Sarah had her first experience of a Cervical Screening last week, knowing the importance of having the test, she called for an appointment as soon as she received the letter.

So many women seem to hold off appointments, and it seems the story of Jade Goody, who died after being diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2008  doesn’t seem to have the same effect on women that it used to, with many choosing not to be tested.

What does it entail?

Cervical screening (a smear test) checks the health of your cervix. The cervix is the opening to your womb from your vagina.

It’s not a test for cancer, it’s a test to help prevent cancer.

All women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 should be invited by letter.

During the screening appointment, a small sample of cells will be taken from your cervix.

The sample is first of all tested for the HPV virus, if results of this come back positive, further tests are carried out to check the cells themselves.

Why is it important?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the name for a very common group of viruses – and is now what the screening tests for initially.

Most people will get some type of HPV during their lives.

Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by infection with certain types of HPV. Finding abnormal changes early means they can be monitored or treated so they do not get a chance to turn into cervical cancer.

What was it like?

I am not going to lie and say it was my favourite experience, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as people are lead to believe.

First of all, I spoke to the nurse, who asked me questions about hormones and any changes I had experienced, confirmed my date of birth and then went on to explain the importance of the test.

Then it came to getting undressed from the waist down behind a curtain and then covering up – completed discrete throughout.

The test itself was done and over within minutes – it was uncomfortable but not painful.

Was it as bad as people had said?

It was nowhere near as bad as people made out – and well worth going through to potentially spot something early.

What now?

Those who are tested receive results by letter, usually in about 2-3 weeks.

It’s your choice if you want to go for cervical screening. But cervical screening is one of the best ways to protect you from cervical cancer.

All pretty simple, and potentially life saving!

For more information, you can read the NHS cervical screening leaflet here.