Cervical cancer prevention: Embarrassment makes women avoid smear tests

Survey finds that body insecurities are stopping women from attending their potentially life-saving check ups

smear tests

Young women are avoiding getting smear tests because they are embarrassed by the look and smell of their pubic areas, a survey suggests.

The charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust surveyed 2,017 British women.

A third said embarrassment caused them to delay getting a smear test, which can prevent 75% of cervical cancers.

The charity said cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35, yet almost two-thirds of those surveyed weren’t aware they’re most at risk.

Lauren Bennie said she put off having her smear test until the age of 30 because she was “naive, embarrassed and uneducated about the female body”.

“So many silly things stopped me from going for my smear test,” she said.

“I worried about the nurse being able to take one look at my bits and have some magic skill to be able to determine the number of sexual partners I’d had. I thought a lot about what kind of underwear and clothes to wear.”

cervical cancer smear tests

 

The survey found young women are embarrassed to attend smear tests because of their body shape (35%), the appearance of their vulva (34%) and concerns over smell (38%).

A third said they wouldn’t go if they hadn’t waxed or shaved their bikini area.

About 15% also said they’d miss their smear tests for a gym class or a waxing appointment.

Robert Music, of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “Please don’t let unhappiness or uncertainty about your body stop you from attending what could be a life-saving test.

“Nurses are professionals who carry out millions of tests every year, they can play a big part in ensuring women are comfortable.”

A total of 220,000 British women are diagnosed with cervical abnormalities each year, the BBC reported.

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