ME: Heyyy, big party on Friday, come along!
CLAIRE: Oh yeh thanks, sounds good, but I’ll see how I feel – gotta go for colposcopy Friday morning.
ME: Oh really, I had one recently, wasn’t bad at all and the nurses were really nice! Which hospital you going to?
ME: Och I’m sure they’ll be nice, to be honest the worst bit about colposcopy for me was trying to explain to Chris that I dont have an STD!
CLAIRE: OMG SAME!!!!!!
When I received my last follow up letter after a smear which showed abnormal cells I mentioned to my boyfriend that I’d be doing that in a few weeks so I’d have to take the morning off work. His face fell, what do you mean you’ve got to get tested? How can you have an STD?
I realised this wasn’t going to be the evening we’d planned, well we can see that film at the cinema next week..
I first got Wikipedia up, then explained how we gals have to go do this every few years, and no, it’s not a great experience but hey, prevention is key, and, it’s free! He seemed a bit embarrassed that he had misunderstood the importance of cancer screening but totally got it once I explained that all girls, and women do this, yes even all your friend’s girlfriends (and your mum!).
We girls are pretty good at supporting each other, we are open about our health and don’t have any qualms about chatting about smear tests over cappucinos. But the recent conversation with my boyfriend, and with my friend about her boyfriend’s seemingly unsupportive/confused reaction to cervical cancer screening makes me wonder if a general confusion about cervical cancer testing, compared with more general sexual health screening from the boys might be acting as a barrier to us going for testing.
Fortunately we were able to explain in not too much time to the lads what is going on and why it is important, while the best way to explain to them prior to an encounter like our experiences is not obvious it seems that being prepared to explain is helpful. Of course they want the best for us and want to support us (and their mums) so it is important being open to their questions, without being offended, its not that they are ignorant but men would rarely hear about smear tests in their group chats!
For advice (after looking at Wikipedia!) Jo’s Trust website has a few threads on their forums about men and cervical cancer testing, including male bosses and how to talk to them about getting days off for testing and treatment.