I know it’s not a usual conversation starter, but have you thought about your cervical health recently?
Of course, no one loves getting their smear done, but darn it, it’s important!
Cervical screening is one of the best ways to protect yourself from cervical cancer, as it checks a sample of cells from your cervix for certain types of human papillomavirus (more commonly known as HPV).
Did you know?
- 8 in 10 people will get HPV at some point in their lifetime.
- 9 in 10 people will clear an HPV infection from their own immune system within two years without even knowing they had it!
- What does make it harder for us to clear a HPV infection is long term hormonal contraceptive use. There is a well established link between using hormonal contraceptive, HPV and cervical cancer (but no one tells us this, do they?)
- 99.7% of cervical cancers are caused by high-risk HPV.
- 99.8% of cervical cancer cases in the UK are preventable.
- It’s called a Pap smear after the Greek doctor, Georgios Papanikolaou, who invented the test
How often should you have a smear?
The NHS recommends cervical screening every 3 years for cervix owners between the ages of 25 and 64.
My tips for your smear visit
- If you feel uncomfortable in waiting rooms, try to book the first appointment of the day
- Avoid booking an appointment during your period and 2 days before/afterwards
- Wear comfy clothes, ideally a dress so you just need to hitch it up
- Bring your own healthy lubricant with you like this one from Smile Makers. KY jelly and leading brand lubricants have a toxic mix of ingredients which should be avoided as it can affect your vaginal microbiome.
- Ask them to use a smaller speculum
- Give yourself a treat afterwards like listening to your favourite song, buying a magazine or a slice of cake
Cervical health resources