What are the feared screening appointments women try to ignore? Our mum blogger explores the 4 most important for Women's Health and how you get them done without any embarrassment!
We all have such busy lives nowadays that our health can take a backseat, particularly for us mothers. I am sure you’re also guilty of thinking ‘well it won’t happen to me’, as I know I am also guilty of this logic. Half the time we see our health check-ups as an inconvenience as it means ringing up the doctors at the crack of dawn, booking an appointment for 10 years later and then waiting another 15 years for any results.
You might not be aware but opting to go down the private route for women’s health concerns is actually so easy, particularly when you want convenience to a point of knowing you can get what you want, when you want it! In addition, there is no requirement whatsoever to de-register from your own GP in your local NHS practice.
Its also discrete! There will be no blushing faces at my NHS practice when bumping into Sally from over the road or my GP, Dr Jeffries whom I saw last week regarding my daughters verruca’s!
So what are the screening appointments we try to ignore?
1.) Having a Smear Screening
To start with…the dreaded smear! Now I have to say this is not the most pleasant of examinations, but it is a very important one. Let’s start with what it is. A smear is testing for changes to the cells of your cervix. It’s not going to tell you if you have cancer. Finding abnormal changes early means they can be monitored or treated so they do not get a chance to turn into cervical cancer - and early detection and treatment may prevent 75% of cancers developing.
The NHS have revealed that lots of us have been ignoring our routine check-up letters and not attending our smear appointments full stop. Although it’s one of the best ways to protect yourself from cervical cancer.
It is normal for us all to feel a bit embarrassed when having this done. During the appointment, the nurse will take a small sample of cells from your cervix using a small brush, which is no bigger than a normal vaginal swab.
It’s the awkwardness that worries us most though. I often think what am I going to say, should I be talking about the weather whilst the nurse has a swab inside my vagina!? I wonder whether or not I should be apologising for the state of my lady garden?! More often than not, after ‘umming’ and ‘ahhing’ about which knickers im going to wear, it makes no difference when they are sat on the floor. My biggest fear is leaving my babies without a mother, but a small bit of discomfort with a smear can save your life though, why wouldn't I want do that.
Interestingly, the NHS announced recently new guidelines that the HPV screen could in fact be a better initial screening tool for cervical abnormalities than a smear! It will now mean having the HPV screen - and only if there is any risk detected would the smear be performed.
As for many of us, our time is precious, we want to ensure our health is addressed, treated and managed in a timely manner. To help with this, Pall Mall Medical have introduced a combined smear and HPV screen - for the most accurate results possible and in the shortest space of time from a single appointment.
In addition, results are back twice as fast too, usually within just 7 days. So what are you waiting for? Get booked in now for a discrete appointment today!
Therefore having a smear doesn’t have to be a red faced moment - if it means embarrassment and trouble booking with your local GP, try heading down the private route instead. Get your peace of mind quickly, discreetly and get back your already busy life!
2.) Having a Mammogram for Breast Cancer
Within the NHS breast screening programme, women between the ages of 50 and 71 are invited for a mammogram every 3 years. The word that springs to my mind is ridiculous! Why wait until you’re practically middle aged for a test that could save your life should the worse outcome be upon you?
Mammograms should be treated as routine women’s health appointments, almost like the dentist but perhaps not as frequent. For us ladies who have such busy lives, the last thing we need to be doing is worrying about our breasts when we’ve got a play date to get to or the third kids party of the weekend to attend. By starting your mammogram screening much earlier in your late 30’s and 40’s, early signs can be caught before a lump may even have presented itself, which ultimately gives you a higher survival rate.
What is involved during a mammogram screening? Each breast is positioned on a flat plate to allow for an x-ray image to be taken, another plate compresses your breast tissue. By keeping the compression fairly firm it allows for good quality images to be taken. The mammogram itself generally only takes around 10-15 minutes, not long at all, right!
Is it painful? I won’t lie to you, a mammogram is not really a pleasant experience but it certainly is not the worst! Of course, having your breasts flattened, squeezed and messed around with for 10-15 minutes is not going to be particularly comfortable, but it is imperative to get the most accurate images - why wouldn’t you want the radiologist to have the best images to review. You might be asking yourself what does a mammogram even look for? They are designed to aid the detection of breast cancer and look for any changes within the breast. These include any calcifications, which are small white spots; they will always be looking for any evidence of masses or tumours that could be a sign that you have breast cancer too.
3.) Having a Well Woman Screen
Speaking of women’s health, its not just cancer that we can keep an eye out for. As all us mothers are superwomen in disguise and do about 1000 jobs per day at warp speed, we need someone to be keeping our general health in check.
That’s why I've considered something called a Well Woman Screen. It’s basically a health MOT for ladies that is done in a single visit to the GP. Its an overal health review, and will give you a chance to have a top-to-toe physical examination. Bloods are taken to check factors effecting our lifestyles (like drinking too much Prosecco… oops!) and an ovarian cancer screen can also be performed if needed, to get a better women’s health overview.
Each health screen is a personal process, with the GP having quality time to discuss any of our specific or personal concerns, whether it’s a nagging pain, losing hair, bloating, tiredness or a lack of energy to name a few of our common ailments. Ultimately a Well Woman Screen allows the GP to obtain an accurate picture of your health and know what is going on from the inside too. The even better news is that all screenings are undertaken in a comfortable and relaxed setting, so any feelings of unease or embarrassment will be making a swift exit. What can be better than an hour on your own without the kids in tow?
4.) Having a Gynaecology Consultation
Many of us have gynaecology concerns at some point in our lives. These may vary between having a bad period, seeing some unusual discharge, trouble with our pelvic floor after childbirth, hormonal changes, feeling the menopause coming on or even fertility issues if trying to conceive.
Though its not just medical issues that can impact our health. Aesthetics also counts too when it comes to body confidence and feeling comfortable in our own skin. We've all heard of the designer vagina, but there really are options to sort a loose vagina or even to reshape our labia.
If an issue is bothering you, get it sorted fast! There doesnt have to be any messing around waiting for an NHS appointment, which could take up to a few months to see a specialist in Gynaecology! At Pall Mall Medical you can see a Consultant Gynaecologist without any referral. Its actually pretty nice to know you can just call and book straight in - which really saves faffing around when you just want to get to the bottom of your concerns. You get plenty of time, without being rushed back out the door too, so its possible to talk in detail, have an examination, a blood test, or imaging scan if required.
Obviously seeing a private consultant gynaecologist comes at a cost, but I find it far more liberating in a private clinic to discuss my lady issues when im not just a number in the queue. Value is what you make of it, and I certainly dont want to be worrying over an issue month after month when ive got my family to look after.
Women’s Gynaecology issues should definitely not be second guessed, and they should certainly not be googled… I know we’ve all been there in those moments!
What Can I Do Next?
Whether you have a niggling worry, a family history of cancer or just feel the time is right, you're welcome to see the experts at Pall Mall Medical. You can see a female Nurse or GP quickly and efficiently, so that you can get back to your daily (and nightly) duties of being a woman or mother.
Convenience is everything and you can avoid the pain of having to take kids to school earlier (knightmare!) or rushing back to pick them up too! Nobody wants to use up annual leave either. Appointments can be taken during your lunch hour if you work close by, or right up until seeing Iggle Piggle at the end of the bedtime hour on CBeebies! (For those who have not endured this, the last appointments can be taken right up to 7pm for note).
So go to Pall Mall Medical for a private, relaxing and most importantly comfortable appointment with one of our Nurses, GP's or Consultants, you’re worth it!
You can contact Pall Mall Medical by calling 03300 58 44 55 or by emailing GP@pallmallmedical.co.uk