Cervical Screening

Reasons for not attending

We asked women why they did not attend regularly for cervical screening. Embarrassment at exposing private parts of the body to a stranger was a common reason why women did not attend for screening.
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Embarrassment prevented her from having a cervical screening test until she was 40 years old but she advises...

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Age at interview: 54
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 54

Pure embarrassment, nothing else but that. You think, I had 3 children in 4 years and you go through everything when you're having children and you've just got no dignity left no modesty, nothing, it's all gone. And then you think after my last post natal I thought that's it, never again, no more. But then of course you come to this, you should be having smears, I thought no I'm not going to go through all this indignity again. So then I got to 40 and had a problem and realised that I would have to go and I would advise any woman don't worry about it, it's just something, it's over and done so quickly. It doesn't hurt, it's uncomfortable, it does not hurt. I would advise any woman don't risk your life by not having a smear done.

Others said they were concerned that the test would be painful. Some women had experienced a painful test in the past that had stopped them from going again. Women who had previously found the test painful said that they experienced no discomfort with the current method of cervical screening, using liquid based cytology (see Experiences of Cervical Screening). A few did not attend because of fear of the unknown and unfamiliarity with doctors.

Some women mistakenly believe that cervical screening is not relevant to them. A few commented that when they were younger they did not realise the importance of having a regular screening test. All women who are invited for cervical screening should have a regular cervical test to check the health of their cervix.


She didn't realise the importance of having regular cervical screening tests when she was younger.

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Age at interview: 41
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 27

Yes I had, not every three years and it was a bit hit and miss really. But I had been, I think the two years before, the three years before I'd gone I'd had one, and had the other and I'd start to think right I'm going to have them every three years but up until then no. But I suppose I was 27 and as I say I just didn't even think. It was something like oh I suppose I should go and have a smear test. May be I'd seen the leaflet about it or something in a magazine that prompted me. But I wasn't that vigilant about my health and oh I must book it in , I must go for a smear test every three years. It's something that didn't even, didn't even enter my head really at the time, it really didn't.

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Last reviewed October 2015.

Last updated October 2015.

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