Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Have You Been Tested? (Cervical Screening) | #SpeakUp

 Cervical Screening NHS advice tips help support #SpeakUp

You guys know that here on Thriftyvintagefashion, I am not afraid to talk about important, controversial and even sometimes taboo subjects especially regards to emotional and mental wellbeing. However, something I don't seem to talk about much on my blog is physical health. Granted, I am not the biggest lover of exercise ever nor am I a massive 'foodie' so I guess I shy away from the subject- however, it is important to remember that physical health is a very broad area, and there are many categories that fall under it. One being; sexual health and taking care of your lady bits (Sorry I couldn't think of a more eloquent way of phrasing that)

I don't really have much experience within this area, luckily you for guys though Laura does. For this #SpeakUp post, Laura is going to be discussing her experience with cervical screening and providing some tips and advice for you ladies at the end. This post is highly informative, I know I will be referring back to it when I reach 25, for sure! 
Hi Guys, Hope you are doing well, I want to talk about a serious topic that I feel is not getting enough attention as it should be. Cervical Screening Testing. 

Us Girls between the ages of 25 and 64 will be invited for regular cervical screening under the NHS Cervical Screening Programme. The aim for a cervical screening test is to detect abnormalities within the cervix that could, if undetected and untreated, develop into cervical cancer.

The policy is that women are offered screening every three or five years depending on their age. Women aged 25-49 are invited for routine screening every 3 years, whereas those aged 50-64 are invited for routine screening every 5 years. 

Between 2014-2015 a total of 4.31 million women aged 25 to 64 were invited for screening in and 3.12 million women were tested, which represented a fall of 3.3% from 2013-14 when 3.23 million were tested. This is appalling and upsetting to me that it is not 100%. Why are some women shying away from their health?

I am aware that any kind of tests can put a lot of people off, as some would rather not know the unknown, but I want to assure you that it is perfectly safe and quick and could save you possible heartache in the long run. I am going to give you my latest experience with getting my test done and then finish off with some facts and tips for you. 

So I received a letter from the doctor about booking my cervical screening test. Just like the first time, (3 years ago when I was 25) I didn't bat an eyelid and called my doctors surgery straight away to book an appointment. It was extremely important for me this second time around to make sure I got it done, as I feel my body has changed a lot within these 3 years, especially being that I am a mum now. Which is, even more, reason for me to get this done. I don't take my health lightly and will always be a willing participate in getting checks done for my own sanity.

Cervical Screening NHS Advice support help tips questions #SpeakUp

The whole process in total took me about 10-15 minutes, with the actual procedure taking about 2 -3 minutes. It was done by a nurse and she gave me the option to be chaperoned if I was nervous and would like someone to be with me. She asked me all the relevant questions like 'are you still at your current house address', 'when was your last period' 'are you on any birth control pills, and the name of it' etc. She then proceeded to tell me what she was going to do, and asked if I had any questions. As it was my second time, I had no queries. 

Once that was done, I was asked to remove all my lower half garments and prop myself up on the examination bed. I was then told to bend my legs up and spread my legs apart. For whatever reason at that point, I tensed up a little bit. The nurse was so lovely and reassured me it was OK and that it would be all over in a matter of minutes. She placed a paper sheet over my lower half and then she inserted an instrument called a speculum into my vagina. I won’t lie it was cold and did hurt initially, but I'm pretty sure she did use lubricant on it. The reason for the speculum is to help it open the insides of your vagina, giving it better access for the nurse to see your cervix. She then used a specially designed long brush to collect samples of my cells from my cervix. Now that bit was extremely uncomfortable and it didn't feel nice, it made me bring my legs forward into each other, and she had to then reassure me again and get me to relax my legs. 

Once that was done, I was asked to remove all my lower half garments and prop myself up on the examination bed. I was then told to bend my legs up and spread my legs apart. For whatever reason at that point, I tensed up a little bit. The nurse was so lovely and reassured me it was OK and that it would be all over in a matter of minutes. She placed a paper sheet over my lower half and then she inserted an instrument called a speculum into my vagina. I won’t lie it was cold and did hurt initially, but I'm pretty sure she did use lubricant on it. The reason for the speculum is to help it open the insides of your vagina, giving it better access for the nurse to see your cervix. She then used a specially designed long brush to collect samples of my cells from my cervix. Now that bit was extremely uncomfortable and it didn't feel nice, it made me bring my legs forward into each other, and she had to then reassure me again and get me to relax my legs. 

After about another 20 seconds or so she was done. A little bit of a TMI, I did bleed a little, which she explained is perfectly fine and most people do. I was passed some tissue to wipe yourself off and I put my jeans and shoes back on. Before I left she let me know that I would receive my results letter within one week and if it said negative, then there was no further action needed and I should come back again after 3 years. She also gave me information about taking care of my breasts, and making sure to regularly check them and look out for any changes as women won’t get a mammogram test until we are about 50 years old.

In all, I am happy I have got this done and will continuously do so. I am firm believer in better safe than sorry when it comes to my health. I don't like to take chances or shrug it off just because I am mentally and physically feeling fine.

*Update* Since writing this post. I have received my letter back and all is well! Going back again 3 years.

I don’t like how there only seems to be awareness and engagement with women’s health when a celebrity is suffering or dying from such disease. This shouldn’t be the case and we should all be in the know and be more aware.

Below I have listed some facts and tips to get you more in the know.

FACTS
1. Cervical screening is not a test for cancer, it is actually a method of preventing cancer by treating and detecting early abnormalities found in the cervix. If left untreated it can lead to cancer.
2. You don't have to have your screening just at your GP's, you can also have it at a woman clinic, family planning clinic or at the genito-uniary medicine (GUM) department of your local hospital.
3. Every day in the UK eight women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and 3 will lose their lives.
4. Scientist for Cancer Research UK says that up to 4,500 lives will be saved each year due to cervical screening.
5. You are invited every 3 years between the ages of 25-49, and then every 5 years between the ages of 50-64.
6. The best time to be tested is during the middle of your cycle as this can ensure a better sample of cells is taken.

TIPS
1. You should not have sexual intercourse 24 hours before your screening as lubricants, sperm could make it difficult to collect a good sample of the cells from the cervix.
2. If you have undergone FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) or cutting let the nurse know.
3. If you have been prescribed any vaginal cream to treat an infection then let your GP know so they can postpone it for a later date after the treatment has finished.
4. Speculums come in different sizes, so be sure to ask for a smaller one if you are feeling uncomfortable.
5. If you are embarrassed about revealing your lower half, then you should wear a skirt to cover your modesty, although a paper sheet should always be given to you, to cover yourself with.
6. You don't have to be alone in the room with the nurse and can ask for a family member or friend to be accompanied with you.
7. Try and stay relaxed as much as possible, you will feel the discomfort less.
8. If it is your first time and you are worried, let the nurse know, as they will be able to assure you and make you feel less tense.

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4 comments

  1. I had never even heard of this! Definitely going to go when I get a letter x
    www.blossomofhope.blogspot.com

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  2. Great post, i love it that your so open about this its great!x
    My Blog

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    Replies
    1. That's what #SpeakUp is here for! :) x

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