As it is cervical screening awareness week, I am interested in knowing why BAME women may not want to attend their smear tests? Have you had friends/family not attend and know why? I also will be having my first smear test next year and although I am nervous and have many questions, I know I cannot risk my health and not attend. So, please do share your experiences and any tips you may have.
 

11 Comments

  • Anonymous

    17/06/2020

    This is real issue but no one wants to talk about it because it is shameful to talk about sex in the first place regardless of whether you are married or not so its a vicious cycle that we need to break out of

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  • RazB

    17/06/2020

    Thank you for the tips, I will definitely check them out! :)

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  • Anonymous

    17/06/2020

    I think this is a real issue ... think more should be done to encourage someone supportive to attend with you if you feel you need.

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  • Anonymous

    17/06/2020

    I think the first part is booking the appointment! So well done for doing that. When I first booked my appointment, it was because a friend asked me why I wasn't doing something to prevent something far worse happening to me. When I got to my first appointment, I wasn't married, and felt awkward answering questions like 'are you sexually active'...'how many sexual partners do you have?' ... not sure if they still ask that! Then you've got to take off your clothes waist down- which is not something we do in front of strangers- so it was awkward!! :) And then you have to lay on the bed with your legs apart!! .... After I had my children.. this was much easier coz I had just gotten used to needing to do this for doctors/nurses! hehe The actual insertion for me was uncomfortable, but the nurse I had was great, and she used plenty of lubricant! And as she explained to me- she'd done so many tests she wasn't actually 'looking'- she's just doing her job! The NHS website has some good tips: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening/what-happens-at-your-appointment/ It says: "Do - wear something you can leave on during the test, like a skirt or long jumper - bring someone with you for support - try breathing exercises to help you relax ask the nurse about these - ask the nurse to use a smaller speculum - ask the nurse about lying in a different position such as on your side with your knees pulled up to your chest - bring something to listen to or read during the test" There's also a helpful video of what to expect! Good luck...remember it's for your health :)

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  • FVaid

    17/06/2020

    I think that's a really good suggestion! People should be able to have a couple days each year for health related appointments. Sounds like some advocacy work there! Saying that... I did take my baby to my last cervical screening- strapped into their pram with a bottle of milk. The appointment was pretty quick.. although when you're told to 'relax'- why do you do the opposite?! :) Also- there are now more evening/weekend clinics. So do check that out.

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  • Anonymous

    17/06/2020

    Childcare issues. If your children are young and not of school age and you are single, finding someone to look after them can be an issue because it isn't exactly an appointment you can take your child along to. People will say well surely someone can look after them for you but a cervical screening is one of many things that a single mother may be balancing and if they have to choose between childcare so they can work or get food shopping done or something else more pressing, sadly cervical screening appointments will be the appointments that are sacrified. Also people may not want to use up their annual leave if they already have a lot going on, so I think people should get paid time off for cervical screenings - especially when you think of the overall cost benefits. ie if cancer was detected early then could be treated early, saving NHS costs and all that.

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  • GrannyBibi

    17/06/2020

    If you don't mind me asking, did you have a discussion about the size of the speculum that was to be used for you? A little known fact is that there are different sizes and health professionals should be 'checking' which one is best and will cause the least pain but that doesn't seem to happen! And once someone has had a painful experience then they are unlikely to want to go through it again.

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  • Anonymous

    17/06/2020

    Believe it or not, a lack of understanding of faith comes into play here. I have heard before that Muslim women should not show their 'awrah' to anyone, not even to other women, unless absolutely necessary. Now you would think a cervical screening would fall within the 'absolutely necessary' category since it is a health issue but apparently some have interpreted that 'absolutely necessary' as 'last resort' type situations i.e. being in labour. This is a complete misunderstanding of the Islamic faith as preventative measures for health reasons is absolutely ok! I know some women may just feel embarassed but we need to stop attaching shame and stigma to women's private parts (or everything to do with a woman!). Perhaps there needs to be more awareness raising to dispel silly myths that have developed over the years around 'awrah' and make clear that looking after your health and taking preventative measures to protect yourself is encouraged in Islam. Tie your camel and all that!

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  • MeowZee

    17/06/2020

    Sadly reluctance could be due to an individual having been a victim of physical or sexual abuse and therefore feel unable to put themselves in a situation where they feel vulnerable to such an extent or which could have a triggering effect (both physically and mentally). Although I am sure there are ways that victims of sexual abuse could be supported through a cervical screening, we know that there is a silence that surrounds victims of abuse in BAME communities and they would feel unable to speak to a health professional about the abuse, resulting in simply not attending cervical screening. More needs to be done to ensure support is available for victims of abuse in this regard.

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  • NazminA

    17/06/2020

    It'll be interesting to see if I am the only one that is aware of this as a barrier to cervical screening but I think it is important to be honest about the range of reasons why someone may be reluctant to have their tests done. I have had a few conversations with friends about this and sadly one of the reasons why they are reluctant is because of their worries that their hymen will break and that will then cause issues for them once they get married as they won't be able to 'prove' their virginity. I cannot tell you how saddening it is to hear genuine fears like this and how misogyny is directly contributing to increased health risks for BAME women. I am sure I don't need to tell anyone here that linking an intact hymen to being a virgin is ridiculous because it can break in a number of ways that doesn't involve sex, but the fact that there is still this obsession with female virginity/control of women's bodies is shocking beyond words. This is why we need to tackle misogyny in all its forms because it is dangerous! The fact that there are women out there willing to sacrifice their health by not getting cervical screening just so they can 'prove' they are virgins to their future husbands is a damning indictment of society and highlights just how much needs to be done.

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  • Anonymous

    16/06/2020

    i think pain is one of the main factors as to why women do not want to go for their examination. when i was pregnant and needed a "sweep" it was awful. i was told it would be "uncomfortable" but it really was painful. i therefore asked for gas and air for the next time they did it on me. we do need to go for a smear and ofcourse im the first to promote it but i think we also need some sort of medicinal help with managing the pain down there to help encourage people to go for their test! if you feel uncomfy at any point just let them know ! ofcourse the benefits are so much more than a bit of pain. i also read somewhere that girls were concerned about hair down there and this was another factor too?

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