June 12th-18th is marked as Cervical Screening Awareness Week, I thought it would be a good time to share my experience of having a cervical screening and discuss why it’s so important for women to attend these appointments.
A cervical screening is a short, routine examination of your cervix. It is carried out once every three to five years starting when you turn 25. You’ll receive a letter in the post a short while before your 25th birthday asking you to make an appointment. The examination usually takes around five minutes. You will be asked to strip from your waist down and lay down on the bed, you’ll then bend your legs with your feet together and let your knees fall to the side, once you’re comfortable the nurse will insert a plastic tool called a speculum which opens up the walls of the vagina making it easier to access the cervix. Next the nurse or doctor performing the examination will insert a long, thin brush (it looks like a cotton bud) and scrape some cells from your cervix. Once this step is complete, the speculum will be removed and you will be left to get dressed.
I had my first (and to date, only) cervical screening in 2015 and I’ll be honest, I was absolutely petrified. I hated the thought of having to strip down and be so exposed let alone the thought of having various bits of equipment inserted into me! The nurse who carried out my examination was however, completely lovely. She put me at ease by discussing the procedure with me beforehand and answering any questions I had, I was treated with absolute dignity at all times and never once felt embarrassed. I won’t lie and say I didn’t feel a thing, but it certainly wasn’t painful – just a slight amount of discomfort. Although I know this isn’t the same for everybody. It was almost over before it even started and I got my results a week or so later and thankfully they came back completely normal.
It’s so incredibly important that you don’t put off going for your screening, a few moments of discomfort could literally save your life. Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women aged 35 and under and it affects around 3,000 women per year so it really is crucial to spare those 5 minutes.
For more information visit Jo’s Trust