I've had quite a history with smear tests and cervical health. I had quite a few abnormal results, which eventually led to having treatment while under general anaesthetic. After treatment I went back to hospital checks every 6 months, which were dropped down to every year, and finally I was placed back onto the usual 3 yearly reviews. All of this means I've had more doctors prodding, looking and taking samples from my fan-noo-noo that most people!
I've previously written my top tips for a happy smear test, as I'm a big advocate for women taking advantage of amazing medical screening when it's offered. However, I was recently contacted by GynaeHealth, to take part in this sponsored review of their new 3-second cervival cancer screen you can do at home. I was intrigued, and as someone who knows far more about her own cervix than most, keen to learn more.
HPV is a sexually transmitted disease (although can be transmitted via skin-to-skin contact only) which four out of five people will be exposed to at some point. For most people get it, their own body clears it up without symptom. It is not a virus you will necessarily carry for life. The important fact is that over 99% of cervical cancers are caused by HPV. This doesn't mean if you have HPV you'll get cancer. Just that if you do, it was more than likely caused by that virus. Isn't science amazing that we now understand that a virus can cause cancers (which allows us to develop vaccines)? Amazing. Apparently the vaccine given to younger women will prevent 70% of cervical cancers.
So, what's this about a home test instead of a cervical smear? This is not me advocating skipping smears, I think they're a brilliant and free service. However, I know many women skip their appointments, or put them off. This home-test tests for HPV, and if you're testing negatively for the virus, you're cervix is a pretty happy bunny. Remember over 99% of cervical cancers are caused by the virus, so if you're currently virus free, your chances of developing cervical cancer are almost zero.
The test itself comes in the post, and is pretty similar to inserting a tampon. There's no pain, as it doesn't need to go as high as a traditional smear test. You take the sample and pop it back in the post.
This isn't for everyone, it's a private medical service, but for the 1 million women who skip their smear test, perhaps its a very smart plan B. The test costs £129.
I'm currently awaiting my results, which I'm hoping just provides me with some peace of mind now that I'm back to 3 year checks with my doctor. As someone who had CIN3 abnomalities at one stage, I also tested positive for HPV at one stage. The virus causes over 99% of these abnomalities remember? The last time I was tested for HPV I was negative, which means my body had cleared it on its own, so hopefully my happy and healthy cervix is still cheering down there. Watch this space ;-)
<This is a sponsored post, but all views are my own, and the topic is well worth the promotion. Keep a check of your cervix ladies>