A while back, a routine smear showed that I had abnormal cells: a pre-cancerous condition called dyskaryosis. I panicked at first, as I'm sure many women do when their smear results show abnormalities. After all, we don't often discuss our private female parts!
I was more than relieved to learn that dyskaryosis is not cancer, merely a condition which could become cancerous if left untreated for a number of years. Ten to fifteen years, as the doctors explained, though of course I wasn't taking any chances! I was referred to the hospital for a colposcopy (a detailed examination of the cervix) in order to find the most appropriate course of treatment. For me, this meant removing the affected cells using a treatment called diathermic loop: where heat is passed through a loop-type instrument to cut away the bad parts and cauterise the skin to prevent bleeding and infection.
It may sound painful, but believe me it wasn't! I had my treatment yesterday, and I wonder now why I'd got so worked up about the treatment in the first place! After the initial consultation and explanations, the treatment itself only lasted a matter of minutes and I barely felt a thing. Just a little aching and light headedness. I still ache a little now, and was told to expect some bleeding for the next few weeks until all is healed. No tampons, bubble bath or sex for a whole month, but this is a small price to pay for peace of mind, I'm sure!
For the next few years, I'll need smears more regularly than usual, just to make sure the problem doesn't return. And if it does, early detection will ensure it is most easily treated!
Most instances of cervical cancer occur because women have "slipped through the net" and haven't been screened as regularly as they could be. So, if it's been a long time since your last smear, please do yourself a favor and have one done. I know they're not pleasant and most uncomfortable, but at the end of the day, I'm sure you'd prefer to know you are healthy, or discover a small problem which can be easily treated, than leave it too long and discover the worst!
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