Michelle Keegan has videoed her reaction to having a smear test, and urged other women to book their appointments as cervical screening rates are at their lowest in 20 years.
Having a smear test might not rank particularly highly on our list of favourite activities.
However, the procedure, which is offered for free on the NHS to all women over the age of 25, is estimated to save around 5,000 lives a year in the UK, making it a more-than-important item on our to-do list.
Despite this, though, new figures show that lots of women are putting their smear tests off, with cervical screening rates at their lowest for two decades. Something that Stylist cover star Michelle Keegan can relate to, having recently admitted that she’s been pushing aside her reminder letters and convinced herself she’s just “too busy” to go.
Prompted by the news that so many of us are forgoing the lifesaving procedure, the Our Girl actor has taken to Instagram to talk about going for her own smear test, and has been honest about how long it’s taken her to book an appointment.
In a video where Keegan can be seen driving back from her GP, she describes her smear test as “really quick and really easy,” continuing to say: “It wasn’t painful at all, just a little bit uncomfortable.”
“Around 3,500 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year and I know it can be daunting going for a smear but these doctors and nurses do it every single day,” Keegan continues.
She calls on other women to get their appointments booked, saying: “So ladies, I’m urging you to go and get it done, and go and tell your family and friends to do the same as well because it’s so important and it’s so easy.”
Keegan posted a caption alongside her video explaining that, like many of us, she waited too long to schedule her appointment.
“I’m going to be honest with you all, I’ve had numerous letters come through my front door that I’ve pushed aside. I’ve also ignored my mum’s tiresome pleas telling me to book an appointment with my local GP …because 1) I used the excuse of being ‘too busy’ with work and life in general. 2) let’s face it’s bloody embarrassing to drop your knickers and open your legs in front of a total stranger. 3) I was apprehensive thinking about the pain I was going to endure!”
Keegan’s comments are all too familiar, with many women fearing the dreaded s-word because of the confusion around what actually happens in the appointment. Earlier this year we researched some of the biggest reasons women put it off, asking 50 readers for their thoughts on cervical screening, with many admitting they had been too scared to book one for fear of the pain.
A lack of education around what happens in a smear test is a contributing factor to this (which is why we’ve answered your most common questions here) but essentially for the majority of women the procedure is uncomfortable but not painful, and most of all, completely necessary as it can save your life.
To find out more about smear tests look at the rest of our content here, and please don’t push the reminder letter aside when it next comes through your door.
Images: Stylist / Instagram