Steph McGovern undergoes live smear test

Steph McGovern has smear test live on TV to raise awareness for cervical cancer

‘There are a lot women who struggle with going to their smear test because they think it’s going to be awful and embarrassing, so we decided to show you what actually happens,’ says TV presenter

Olivia Petter@oliviapetter1
Tuesday 27 April 2021 12:23

TV host Steph McGovern had a smear test on live TV on Monday.

The 38-year-old underwent the test during an episode of her namesake Channel 4 show, Steph’s Packed Lunch.

All women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 are invited to have cervical screenings, which are conducted to check the health of the cervix in order to prevent cancer.

During the screening appointment, a small sample of cells is taken from your cervix and then checked for types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that can cause changes to the cells of your cervix.

While the screenings are a necessary health precaution, studies have emerged in recent years suggesting that many women are put off attending their smear tests due to embarrassment.

As a result, research has found that one in four patients do not attend screenings after being invited to do so, a figure that rises to one in three among 25 to 29-year-olds.

During the episode, McGovern spoke to a sexual health doctor called Dr Naomi Sutton, who explained how there are many reasons why women aren’t attending their cervical screenings.

“There’ll be lots of reasons women don’t go but all these things can be tackled… embarrassment about their bodies, nervousness about pain…. a skin problem, you might be menopausal and it’s dry and sore, but all these things we can sort out with a bit of dialogue and communication,” she said.

Before the test got underway, McGovern told viewers: “There are a lot women who struggle with going to their smear test because they think it’s going to be awful and embarrassing, so we decided to show you what actually happens.

“I’ve had my smear tests a number of times and they can be different each time. Sometimes you don’t feel anything.”

McGovern continued speaking as Dr Sutton conducted the test.

“Now it feels pretty ok but sometimes they can hurt, or people worry it’s going to hurt,” she said. “But it’s not for long, even if there is a little bit of pain.”

McGovern added that “it’s not the most comfortable experience in the world”.

“This isn’t hurting, it just feels weird,” she said.

The segment concluded with Dr Sutton affirming the importance of smear tests.

“The point of the screening test is that it’s picking up changes before they turn into cancer,” she said. “We can treat the changes before it ends up being something we struggle to treat.”

According to Cancer Research UK, there are around 3,200 new cervical cancer cases in the UK every year, which is more than eight every day.

In women in the UK, cervical cancer is the 14th most common cancer, with around 3,100 new cases in 2017.

You can find out more about cervical screening on the NHS website here.

Read more about cervical cancer by visiting Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust here.

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