One in three young women avoid or delay getting screened for cervical cancer because they are embarrassed about their pubic areas, revealed a survey.
According to the World Health Organisation, cervical cancer — a malignant tumour of the cervix, the lowermost part of the uterus — is the fourth leading cause of deaths from cancer in women worldwide.
Cervical cancer can be screened through a pap smear test in which a sample is collected through a routine pelvic examination. A pap smear, recommended for women between 21 and 29 years once every three years, can prevent 75 per cent of cervical cancers.
The survey conducted by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust — a British cancer charity — showed that young women are embarrassed to attend smear tests because of their body shape (35 per cent), the appearance of their vulva (34 per cent) and concerns over smell (38 per cent), the BBC reported on Monday.
The charity surveyed 2,017 British women and a third of young women said they would not go if they had not waxed or shaved their pubic area.
In addition, almost two-thirds of the participants were not even aware that they are at risk of developing cervical cancer.
Lauren Bennie, a survey participant, told BBC that she put off having her smear test until the age of 30 because she was “naive, embarrassed and uneducated about the female body”.
Another participant, Glaswegian, a 33-year-old woman said: “I didn’t know it at the time, but the embarrassment I felt around going for a smear was actually doing my body damage.”
When she did eventually did a test she was told she needed further examination.
“Please don’t let unhappiness or uncertainty about your body stop you from attending what could be a life-saving test,” said Robert Music, from the charity.
“Nurses are professionals who carry out millions of tests every year, they can play a big part in ensuring women are comfortable,” Music added.