This is the surprising reason why women aren’t attending their smear tests

Are you guilty of this?

hospital waiting rom landscape.jpg
hospital waiting rom landscape.jpg
(Image credit: Rex)

Are you guilty of this?

January marks Cervical Cancer Awareness week, with the annual #smearforsmear social media movement encouraging women across the world to get tested and reminding them that the disease is preventable.

While a smear test lasts just 5 minutes, the impact of cervical cancer can last a lifetime - so it’s pretty surprising that so many women are opting out of their tests.

According to recent figures, one in four women are opting out of their recommended screenings, with the attendance rate dropping even lower among millennials, with a whopping one third of 25 to 29 year-olds opting out of a smear.

But why are making such a dangerous decision?

Well according to a recent survey by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, it’s all about body image.

That’s right. A third of young women aren’t attending their smear tests due to embarrassment about their bodies - everything from insecurities about pubic hair to concerns about smelling ‘normally.’

‘Smear tests prevent 75 per cent of cervical cancers,’ emphasised Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust CEO, Robert Music. ‘So it is a big worry that so many young women, those who are most at risk of the disease, are unaware of the importance of attending,’

He continued: ’It is of further concern that body worries are contributing to non-attendance. Please don't let unhappiness or uncertainty about your body stop you from attending what could be a life-saving test. Nurses are professionals who carry out millions of tests every year, they can play a big part in ensuring women are comfortable.’

We’re off to book our smear tests - it might just be a life-saving decision.

Jenny Proudfoot
Features Editor

Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.