'Embarrassed women avoiding smear tests'

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chelseadagg3r
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Embarrassment makes women avoid smear tests, charity says - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-42747892

Avoiding or delaying smear tests due to embarrassment or unease about odour and body image seems to be a fairly common issue.

Of course, it's such an important test to have and it saves lives.

Have you ever avoided or delayed a smear test or going to the doctor for an intimate health concern because of feeling embarrassed or uneasy?

Please note you can post anonymously in this thread
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I've never gone to one because I'm too embarrassed. It's just such an uncomfortable position - it's definitely a body image thing for me, and also I don't like the idea of showing someone you hardly know something so private. I'm young and healthy so I'm just taking the risk and hoping I'm okay. It's probably naive but I just can't bring myself to do it.
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I've avoided a fair few smear tests myself thanks to having vaginismus, i can't bring myself to go because of the possible pain but i have to to cure this, its a vicious cycle.
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How are women embarrassed about having a test that can stop them from developing cancer, yet not embarrassed to get their private area waxed?! :rolleyes:
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~Tara~
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There's been, thankfully, a large push back to this idea of embarrassment being the reason why women dont go. It is as likely they are avoiding the procedure due to being victims of sexual violence.

As for comment above mine...your bikini line or your labia are waxed, not your cervix or vagina. Theres no insertion in a wax. I would hazard that most of the embarrassment is not the display of the outer genital area but having a stranger touch you whilst inserting something inside.
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chelseadagg3r
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(Original post by ~Tara~)
There's been, thankfully, a large push back to this idea of embarrassment being the reason why women dont go. It is as likely they are avoiding the procedure due to being victims of sexual violence.

As for comment above mine...your bikini line or your labia are waxed, not your cervix or vagina. Theres no insertion in a wax. I would hazard that most of the embarrassment is not the display of the outer genital area but having a stranger touch you whilst inserting something inside.
Yes, I've been following it on BBC news over the past few days and it is really upsetting to hear that survivors of sexual violence aren't getting the support and understanding they need to undergo tests like this on such a seemingly wide scale
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~Tara~
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(Original post by chelseadagg3r)
Yes, I've been following it on BBC news over the past few days and it is really upsetting to hear that survivors of sexual violence aren't getting the support and understanding they need to undergo tests like this on such a seemingly wide scale
thing is, it is simple stuff. Bedside manner. Explaining what youre doing before you do it and seeking consent.

Its not just in smear tests either. I needed an exam right above my pubic bone and the doctor nearly got a punch in the face when they pulled my pants further down without warning. It wasnt even an anger response, it was an automatic ptsd response! Another time the nurse doing a smear got the speculum stuck and just tried to yank it out without warning.

I still go but i hate it. i worry about dissociating. I worry i might fight against them even though i know they arent attacking me. Its embarassing.
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(Original post by ~Tara~)
As for comment above mine...your bikini line or your labia are waxed, not your cervix or vagina. Theres no insertion in a wax. I would hazard that most of the embarrassment is not the display of the outer genital area but having a stranger touch you whilst inserting something inside.
The article above states the following:

"The survey found young women are embarrassed to attend smear tests because of their body shape (35%), the appearance of their vulva (34%) and concerns over smell (38%)."

Surely those are all things that should put people off waxing too?

I'm genuinely trying to understand.
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Usually I wouldn't go anon for this but I feel it's for the best with this post.

I've been invited for a few smears over the last few years due to my age and I've put every single one off. Due to bad experiences, I've always been uncomfortable with myself or anyone going near 'that region' - this has not only lead to me missing smears but as you can imagine, problems in relationships but thankfully my partner has been understanding for the most part.

I'm not embarrassed for a doctor or nurse to see my privates, I just feel so uncomfortable going near there and I would clam up if they came near me. Sounds dramatic but I would feel violated and shamed. I know this stems from my past and I am in therapy to deal with this and some other subjects.

So often we hear that women won't go for smears just because of embarrassment but many fail to realise some women won't go due to trauma.

I do urge all women to go for a smear test and if they are in the same boat as me, I'd urge them to seek help for their trauma because we can't let a trauma interfere with possibly saving our lives. I know it's easier said than done but help is out there.
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chelseadagg3r
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(Original post by ~Tara~)
thing is, it is simple stuff. Bedside manner. Explaining what youre doing before you do it and seeking consent.

Its not just in smear tests either. I needed an exam right above my pubic bone and the doctor nearly got a punch in the face when they pulled my pants further down without warning. It wasnt even an anger response, it was an automatic ptsd response! Another time the nurse doing a smear got the speculum stuck and just tried to yank it out without warning.

I still go but i hate it. i worry about dissociating. I worry i might fight against them even though i know they arent attacking me. Its embarassing.
It really is. I've had the same thing, moving clothes out of the way without just saying so first or asking me to do it, and it makes me so uncomfortable. Just let me know what's happening, communicate with me, and work with me. It's really sad that this seems to be not so uncommon.

(Original post by Anonymous)
The article above states the following:

"The survey found young women are embarrassed to attend smear tests because of their body shape (35%), the appearance of their vulva (34%) and concerns over smell (38%)."

Surely those are all things that should put people off waxing too?

I'm genuinely trying to understand.
To be honest, it does put people off of getting waxed. Most who do it, do it themselves

(Original post by Anonymous)
Usually I wouldn't go anon for this but I feel it's for the best with this post.

I've been invited for a few smears over the last few years due to my age and I've put every single one off. Due to bad experiences, I've always been uncomfortable with myself or anyone going near 'that region' - this has not only lead to me missing smears but as you can imagine, problems in relationships but thankfully my partner has been understanding for the most part.

I'm not embarrassed for a doctor or nurse to see my privates, I just feel so uncomfortable going near there and I would clam up if they came near me. Sounds dramatic but I would feel violated and shamed. I know this stems from my past and I am in therapy to deal with this and some other subjects.

So often we hear that women won't go for smears just because of embarrassment but many fail to realise some women won't go due to trauma.

I do urge all women to go for a smear test and if they are in the same boat as me, I'd urge them to seek help for their trauma because we can't let a trauma interfere with possibly saving our lives. I know it's easier said than done but help is out there.
That's fine

Do you worry about what might happen if you don't go? Do think maybe more can be done to help get people who struggle in such a way as yourself so that they can feel more able to get tests like this?

It's not dramatic at all, and you definitely aren't the only one who feels this way. Does being 'lumped in' with those who won't go because of things like embarassment make things more difficult for you, do you think? Like, do you think that doctors in particular might just put it down to that because it's so common and therefore be less understanding and helpful to you?

It sounds like a lot more discussion on topics like this need to happen a bit higher up! Definitely with you on getting help and support
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(Original post by chelseadagg3r)

It's not dramatic at all, and you definitely aren't the only one who feels this way. Does being 'lumped in' with those who won't go because of things like embarassment make things more difficult for you, do you think? Like, do you think that doctors in particular might just put it down to that because it's so common and therefore be less understanding and helpful to you?

It sounds like a lot more discussion on topics like this need to happen a bit higher up! Definitely with you on getting help and support
I'm a medic. My first thought if someone looked uncomfortable if I was examining their abdomen or doing an intimate exam would be that they had been abused. I can't speak my colleagues, but I suspect a lot of them would think the same.

I find it more surprising that people don't go purely because they are too embarrassed. Honestly, the doctors and nurses who do smears do them all the time, they have seen everything and will not judge you.
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chelseadagg3r
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(Original post by Anonymous)
I'm a medic. My first thought if someone looked uncomfortable if I was examining their abdomen or doing an intimate exam would be that they had been abused. I can't speak my colleagues, but I suspect a lot of them would think the same.

I find it more surprising that people don't go purely because they are too embarrassed. Honestly, the doctors and nurses who do smears do them all the time, they have seen everything and will not judge you.
Oh great, it's good to hear from the perspective of a medic on this!

So, is that something that was taught or brought up in your training at all, or is it just something you know more out of sense?

From my perspective, which is very small, it seems to be something more common with younger people (not going out of embarassment) and that was reflected in the survey in the article as well. Not sure for smear tests because that doesn't come up on here too often, I was just posting about the news story I came across on here, but I've seen a fair amount of posts on here about 'I have x intimate problem please help me I can't go to the doctor because it's embarassing' so it doesn't seem to just be limited to cervical screenings.

Personally I did definitely used to feel embarassed about the idea of seeing a doctor for something like that, though a bit different than the article maybe suggests. I wasn't worried that they'd think ill of me, but living in a relatively small town and having seen all of the doctors and nurses there for different things over the years, they knew me in more of a personal sense. I actually went to school with the son of one of the nurses, and we used to chat about the science coursework we were both working on as she took my blood every 3 months. At that point, it was difficult to go in like 'hey please look at my genitals'. It wasn't reported on so I have no idea, but I do wonder if people are more embarassed because they have a bit more of a rapport with their doctors. I've stripped off in A&E for tests and for X-rays and ultrasounds, and plenty of people have seen me at least close to naked, but doing it at my GP surgery would definitely still feel a bit weird to me and I imagine I'm not alone in that

Either way, 1 in 4 women aren't attending cervical screening appointments, 1 in 3 for women aged 25-29, which is a pretty scary number. What do you think could be done to get more women to go to them?
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(Original post by chelseadagg3r)
Oh great, it's good to hear from the perspective of a medic on this!

So, is that something that was taught or brought up in your training at all, or is it just something you know more out of sense?

From my perspective, which is very small, it seems to be something more common with younger people (not going out of embarassment) and that was reflected in the survey in the article as well. Not sure for smear tests because that doesn't come up on here too often, I was just posting about the news story I came across on here, but I've seen a fair amount of posts on here about 'I have x intimate problem please help me I can't go to the doctor because it's embarassing' so it doesn't seem to just be limited to cervical screenings.

Personally I did definitely used to feel embarassed about the idea of seeing a doctor for something like that, though a bit different than the article maybe suggests. I wasn't worried that they'd think ill of me, but living in a relatively small town and having seen all of the doctors and nurses there for different things over the years, they knew me in more of a personal sense. I actually went to school with the son of one of the nurses, and we used to chat about the science coursework we were both working on as she took my blood every 3 months. At that point, it was difficult to go in like 'hey please look at my genitals'. It wasn't reported on so I have no idea, but I do wonder if people are more embarassed because they have a bit more of a rapport with their doctors. I've stripped off in A&E for tests and for X-rays and ultrasounds, and plenty of people have seen me at least close to naked, but doing it at my GP surgery would definitely still feel a bit weird to me and I imagine I'm not alone in that

Either way, 1 in 4 women aren't attending cervical screening appointments, 1 in 3 for women aged 25-29, which is a pretty scary number. What do you think could be done to get more women to go to them?
At my med school, we didn't have any specific training. I may be more aware of it because of personal experiences, but to be fair, it is common sense.

I appreciate that it must be more difficult seeing a doctor or nurse about such issues if you have known them your whole life. However, it is still a professional relationship from their side and definitely not something they would be discussing with their family! I know that probably doesn't make it any less awkward though.

I think education - be it through school or via the media - is definitely needed to raise awareness, both about the procedure itself and about cervical cancer. I certainly didn't know much about it until I was at med school. I don't even think I knew the cervical screening programme existed.

In countries were routine screening isn't offered, cervical cancer is one of the top causes of death in females. These deaths are potentially preventable via a test that takes a few minutes every three years.

Whether or not someones chooses to have smear tests or not is entirely up to them. But that should be a fully informed choice. I'm very much for the media raising more awareness on the topic.
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chelseadagg3r
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(Original post by Anonymous)
At my med school, we didn't have any specific training. I may be more aware of it because of personal experiences, but to be fair, it is common sense.

I appreciate that it must be more difficult seeing a doctor or nurse about such issues if you have known them your whole life. However, it is still a professional relationship from their side and definitely not something they would be discussing with their family! I know that probably doesn't make it any less awkward though.

I think education - be it through school or via the media - is definitely needed to raise awareness, both about the procedure itself and about cervical cancer. I certainly didn't know much about it until I was at med school. I don't even think I knew the cervical screening programme existed.

In countries were routine screening isn't offered, cervical cancer is one of the top causes of death in females. These deaths are potentially preventable via a test that takes a few minutes every three years.

Whether or not someones chooses to have smear tests or not is entirely up to them. But that should be a fully informed choice. I'm very much for the media raising more awareness on the topic.
Ah, okay, thank you!

Haha, yeah. The report mentioned that the percentage of women having their screenings differed between regions, and of course there's going to be many reasons, but I do wonder if that's possibly a tiny one.

Absolutely. I only know about it because I overheard my aunt talking about being invited for a test and I didn't know what it was so I googled it. With so many universities having health centres on campus, more should be done there too. Female students are getting closer to the age, or may be at that age, of being invited yet I know at mine it's one of the few things I haven't seen some initiative about.

Thank you so much for your input!
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I've had smears done before and they are incredibly painful for me, which confuses everyone. But I wouldn't miss one because of the discomfort.
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