“Literally two minutes out of your life can save your life and THAT is my point.”
Those are the words of Facebook blogger The No Filter Mum who has posted encouraging women to forget their embarrassment and take up potentially lifesaving cervical screening.
The mum, whose name is Jessica Ellis, posted after it was revealed screenings nationally have hit a 20 year low - leading cervical cancer charity Jo’s Trust to announce ‘the Jade Goody effect is long gone’.
The post is packed full of helpful, straightforward advice - and has now been shared more than 11,000 times.
It reads: “I think it’s time to talk about this again. Look after your lady garden. And I’m not referring to taming the Brillo pad bush with a bikini wax, I’m talking smears.
“I am yet to meet someone who bounces off the walls with excitement at the thought of heading to their GP’s so that a complete stranger can stick a plastic instrument up into their vagina on a Monday afternoon. BUT it’s important, a bit uncomfortable but a super quick procedure. Here are my top tips for ensuring a smooth in and out experience.”
Here's her advice.
Use the word Vagina.
I know I know, most of us aren’t fans of the word vagina but as a heads up it turns out that using the words minnie, foo-foo and vajayjay during a smear test confuses things and isn’t deemed as medical lingo so my initial advice is to stick with the V word during such procedures and chit chats with the nurse.
In the words of Elsa - Let It Go.
Putting your ankles together and letting your legs drop either side isn’t a flattering position but let them in to the god damn vicinity as it makes their jobs easier. Relax, let it go, chill.
Are they thinking what I’m thinking?
No. They are not thinking ‘she wears odds socks’, ‘she should have shaved her hairy legs’, ‘she could really do with a tidier shop’. They are just doing their job and your vagina will not be any more memorable to them than anyone else’s.
The plastic instrument.
Every time I’ve gone for a smear and seen that plastic little friend laying on the table I genuinely think ‘there is no way that bastard will go up there’. Well guess what - it will, it does and it slips up there like a small lubricated pencil. It can be a bit uncomfy. But then so is plucking your eyebrows and most of us manage that.
It takes two mins.
Literally two mins out of your life can save your life and THAT is my point.
Spread your legs, spread the word and spread the V love. It’s so important to keep the conversation going about Cervical Cancer awareness.
The disease came to national attention in 2008 when Big Brother star Jade Goody announced her cervical cancer diagnosis at just 27 years old. She died just a year later in March 2009.
Her bravery and openness about her fight advertised the importance of the smear test to young women across the country.
But last week the NHS revealed cervical cancer screening coverage has dropped from 72.7% to 72% in the UK in the last year, meaning more than 1.2 million women are risking their lives by avoiding smear tests.
Robert Music, chief executive at Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust said: “I am extremely disappointed to see these statistics, however sadly I am not surprised. The Jade Goody effect has long gone.
“We have spoken out time and time again about the need for investment and action to improve cervical screening attendance, however this is simply not happening.
“The Cancer Strategy for England emphasises prevention so it is incredibly frustrating to see lack of activity to increase participation in a programme that can prevent diagnoses of cervical cancer.”
The charity blames a lack of funding hindering the amount of women taking up the tests.
It wants to see an increase in accessibility - including the ability for women to attend screenings at GPs other than the one they are registered with, such as close to work.
More sexual health services and the ability to self-sample should also be available, it has said.
What is cervical screening, or a smear test?
During the test a small sample of cells is taken from the cervix and checked under the microscope for abnormalities.
For the majority of women the test reveal no problems but for around one in 20 women, it shows changes in cells which if left untreated, can lead to cancer.
The changes are often fully treatable and regular screenings protect women again cervical cancer.
Who gets the test?
Women aged 25 to 49 are offered tests every three years on the NHS and those between the ages 50 and 64 every five years.
Women who had the HPV vaccination as teenagers are also offered the smear because the vaccine doesn’t guarantee complete protection against cervical cancer.
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is the UK’s only dedicated charity offering support and information to women of all ages and their loved ones affected by cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities.
For more information, visit jostrust.org.uk or call the national Helpline on 0808 802 8000.