Cervical abnormalities: CIN3 and CGIN

Emotional effects

Everyone reacts differently to having CIN3 / CGIN. Some of the women we spoke with worried very little from the time they received abnormal test results through to recovery, while others were extremely anxious until they knew the abnormal cells had all been removed (see ‘Getting abnormal test results’ and ‘Feelings about abnormal results’).

Many women we interviewed were relieved to have the abnormalities detected early through cervical screening (see ‘Views on cervical screening’). They were pleased to be treated successfully and to hear that they were now clear.

Some of the women we interviewed said they felt emotionally drained after treatment or a bit tearful, especially when they thought about what they’d been through. Several recommended keeping busy at this time and not spending too much time alone. A few said they cried with relief when they found out they had normal results. A couple, though, said that while everyone around them was happy and relieved, they felt upset because they were still coming to terms with what they’d been through.

Some of the women we talked to said that, although they had clear results, they were now worried about recurrence. A few, who had been treated over ten years ago, said that these anxieties lessened with time. Others were more worried about cancer generally. A few said they were concerned for their daughters and keen for them to have the HPV vaccine (see ‘HPV’).

Many of those we spoke to said that, since diagnosis and treatment, they looked after themselves more because having CIN3/ CGIN had made them realise how important their health was. Several made changes to their diet or lifestyle, including drinking less alcohol, stopping smoking and doing more exercise. One woman had started meditation to help her relax. A few, who felt they had a healthy lifestyle anyway, wanted to move on after treatment and get on with normal life.

Some of the women we interviewed said the whole experience had made them look at life differently. The anxiety of having abnormal results, waiting for colposcopy or treatment, and being treated had a huge impact on them, and they stressed that the emotional effects of having CIN3 / CGIN lasted longer than the physical. Several women appreciated life more now and valued their time with family and friends more. They also had more compassion for others. A few said their experience had led to them to want to encourage other women to have regular cervical screening tests (smears) (see ‘Views on cervical screening’).

For some, the emotional side of having CIN3 / CGIN was bound up with their experiences of health care (see ‘Perceptions and experiences of health care’).

Last reviewed May 2014.
Last updated April 2012.

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