Women are avoiding smear tests because they're anxious their vaginas aren't normal


Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust says 35% of 2,017 women surveyed don't attend because of their body shape, 34% avoid it because of the appearance of their vulva and 38% avoid the appointment because of concerns over smelling "normally".

Across the United Kingdom, one in four eligible women aged 25 to 64 do not take up their smear test invitation, this rises to one in three among 25 to 29-year-olds and is even as high as one in two in some areas of the UK.

A third (31%) also admitted they would not attend their appointment if they had not waxed or shaved their bikini area.

The free screening is open to women ages 21-64 who have no health insurance; have health insurance but have a co-payment or an unmet deductible; and/or have health insurance that does not cover Pap smears.

In Barnet, 63.9 per cent of young women have not been attending smear tests locally, according to statistics from Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust. But while the NHS has come under scrutiny for sending out letters that reinforce the fact it's a "choice" to attend the screenings, experts in the field would actively urge all women to attend their smears.

All women aged 25 to 49 are invited for a screening test every 3 years, while those aged 50 to 64 are invited every 5 years. But that figure increases further when you focus on the 25-29 age group, where one in three women fail to go for a screening.

"One of the common misconceptions around cervical cancer is that if you received the HPV vaccine you don't need to attend your cervical screening, this is not the case so please do not ignore your invite".

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Cervical Cancer Prevention Week takes place this week (January 22 - 28).

Around 220,000 British women are diagnosed with cervical abnormalities annually.

If cervical cancer is detected early, it is one of the most successfully treatable cancers.

This is a cause for concern, as one in four eligible women now do not take up their smear test invitations, rising to one in three among 25 to 29-year-olds.

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

Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust expressed its concern that body image issues, including perception of what is "normal", could be putting women's lives in danger.