One third of women admit to delaying having a smear due to embarrassment. Many girls and young women in the UK are growing up with some very distorted ideas concerning their body image and self-esteem.
A recent report highlighted the concerns women have about smears. None of the fears you may consider reasonable: Will it hurt? What if it comes back with an abnormal result? No, this survey revealed one third of women would avoid a smear if they hadn’t had a bikini wax.
During an interview one woman said she was worried what her GP, yes GP, would think if she hadn’t shaved. When did GPs last do smears anyway? The last time I did one was when we had a health secretary whose surname didn’t make you snigger.
The nurse couldn’t care less if you’ve shaved or not, all they will be thinking is how quickly you can get on and off the couch so they can get to the end of their morning list
Can someone please just inform the public that practice nurses, not GPs, do smears and that most of them are female, and that the nurse couldn’t care less if you’ve shaved or not, all they will be thinking is how quickly you can get on and off the couch so they can get to the end of their morning list and to that much needed cup of coffee and chocolate biscuit.
As for smell, the nurse who will be taking your smear will more than likely have been dressing diabetic leg ulcers that same day and it would take some pretty poor personal hygiene to compete with one of those for a nasal assault.
So, how can we improve uptake?
Well I’m not sure there is much doctors can do, but schools could make a good start by educating teenagers, particularly teenage boys, that after puberty genitals are supposed to have hair on them and that the porn stars they watch on their phones are no more representative of most women than government ministers are of the general population.
Dr David Turner is a GP in west London