Messages to other women
Many of the women we interviewed who were diagnosed with abnormal cervical cells encouraged other women who were, or had been, sexually active to have cervical screening on a regular basis.
The NHS Screening Programme in England offers free cervical screening to women aged between 25-64 years on a 3 or 5 yearly basis, depending on their age. There is no evidence that women should be called up for screening before the age of 25. Cervical screening below the age of 25 can do more harm than good as it can lead to unnecessary and harmful investigations and treatments. The risk of cancerous changes are very low in this age group and an abnormal test result is often due to developmental changes rather than other reasons. Occasionally cervical screening is done when women under twenty are seen by a health professional for other reasons such as bleeding after sex.
Women aged 65 and over who have a history of regular normal test results are also at low risk of abnormal cell changes.
Women aged 25-64 years who prefer to have more frequent screening, can pay to have yearly tests taken at a private organisation, such as the Marie Stopes Clinic.
Several women wanted to encourage young women in their twenties to attend for screening.
Laura advises women never to miss their cervical screening test.
Paula believes we are lucky to have cervical screening freely available and encourages others to...
Young women should overcome their embarrassment to have regular smear tests.
Yeah the reason why I had abnormal cells and they progressed is because I didn't go and have one and like a lot of girls they get very embarrassed and put it off when you don't realise how important it is that if you go. It's fast, it's quick and nothing to be embarrassed about, just do it and then if there is a problem then it gets fixed. Otherwise it will get worse and it is more scary.
Another woman had been discouraged from attending for screening because she did not want to be seen by a male doctor. She encouraged others who felt the same way to voice their concerns and ask to be seen by a female doctor or nurse rather than avoid having tests.
Further tests and treatment
Women who had been diagnosed with abnormal cervical cells encouraged others not to be afraid to go for tests or treatment. Several stressed that, in their experience, abnormal cervical cells can be treated, treatments are usually straightforward and effective and if cervical abnormalities are diagnosed early, any treatment needed is likely to be less severe.
Dont panic if you have an abnormal test result and make sure you go for another test.
Dont be scared of the procedures and get as much factual information as you can.
Several encouraged others to ask their doctors questions, to not be afraid or embarrassed about asking for information to be repeated if they did not fully understand it, and to make sure they got as much information as they needed.
Others stressed that abnormal cervical cells were more common than many women may realise and encouraged others to talk to their friends or family about their fears.
Encourages women to attend for cervical screening and check up's to prevent more severe problems...
I suppose really women need to be encouraged, women that are visiting regularly are in a fairly secure position and if they do get treatment they're going to have minor treatment like the laser therapy which has got it's ups and downs but it's more or less, it's not very bad and therefore it's not very much to be scared of. But if people aren't coming because they're scared then that's going to put them in the position where they may be, if they need treatment they may need more severe treatment. So to actually know that if something has happened, if there is a problem that the cure for that problem is actually not very bad, it's probably not, initially it's almost the incentive to sort of say if you are checked regularly and if there is a problem then probably it would be quite something very simple to sort out and that you're being looked after and you're being monitored and the best is being done for you.
Get enough information to put your mind at ease and dont be afraid to have treatment for...
Well first of all I would think if there are any women out there who still don't go for their regular smear tests then they really ought to do that, I mean that's, and I always have done but I mean I think its so important that people actually do that. I think you also need to have enough confidence to keep on asking questions so that you do get enough information to put your mind at ease and also to be confident in the fact that, I forget what the statistics are now but such a high proportion of people in the end have no on-going problem, but its just best to OK go along get the treatment done and be done with it. Its not a, its not a dangerous treatment, its not a particularly, as I say, OK its undignified but that's you know. It's worth it. Certainly don't be afraid of having the treatment.
A few advised others not to worry until they knew if they had anything to worry about.
Ask your doctor questions and dont worry until you know you have something to worry about.
Again if you are that kind of person that does worry please don't unless you know for sure you do have something to worry about. So if you have any doubts please ask, ask all the questions there are and don't feel silly about asking any questions because after all doctors would prefer that you ask these questions because they can't be expected to give you all the answers there is possible because there wouldn't be enough time to cover all those questions you know it's something that you would have to point out to the doctor and I'm sure he'd be only too willing to try and you know put your mind at ease with whatever you have that's worrying you. But you know by worrying about something before you really know is just making you feel even worse inside because you really could be worrying for nothing. And just keep up with the regular appointments whether it is for a smear or the colposcopy clinic because you have more chance of keeping well and in good health than if you were by not keeping up with your regular appointments.
Last reviewed October 2015.
Last updated October 2015.