A poll carried out by The Eve Appeal - a gynaecological cancer charity - found that almost a third of women (28 per cent) missed their smear test appointments in the last year.
The research also found that 31 per cent of those who missed their screening cited the pandemic as the reason they did not attend, either because of concerns over Covid-19 or because they assumed their screening would be cancelled due to the disruption to the health service.
However Jama, 26, has spoken out to raise awareness about the importance of attending cervical smears after she left it a year before getting a second check-up and needed a biopsy.
Speaking on her Instagram stories, Jama said: “It’s very rare I get serious but I don’t see it talked about enough. Girls, if you haven’t done already, go and get your smear test. I know it seems butters and uncomfortable and awkward but it’s not that bad and it’s so important."
"I’ve just had to get my second one because I left it a year for my second check-up. I’m getting so many messages from loads people saying, ‘I’ve been putting it off’… you’ve just got to check on these things.”
Sharing more details about her own experience, Jama continued: "There’s these things – I’m not a doctor, probably not the right terminology – but I think they’re called ‘CINs’ [cervical intraepithelial neoplasia], and he thinks I have CIN two.
“So the first one is fine, CIN two [means] you have cells that you need to monitor and then the third is cancerous stuff or will become cancerous. When I went today, he took a biopsy so like a little bit inside of me and that’ll get sent off and I’ll find out.”
According to the NHS, CINs are changes of the outer cells of the cervix, which have the potential to turn cancerous if left untreated.
Maya advised listeners not to worry about the appearance of their vaginas when booking a test, adding: "They’re professional doctors, they’ve seen a million fannies, they’re not going to be shocked by any. I know that’s the weird thought because I always thought like, ‘Oh my God, they’re gonna see my narn’, but it’s just minor.'
“You basically have to monitor these things and it’s better you catch it sooner rather than later so it doesn’t go into something else. Just get checked, don’t put it off.”
While the NHS is currently working through a backlog of cervical screening appointments, you can still book and attend a smear test.
Anyone who wants to find more information on smear tests and cervical cancer can visit The Eve Appeal website. There is also a helpline you can call if you are concerned: 020 7605 0100.
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