- I had paps as directed and the testing started at about 16 when I was still a virgin. I got an abnormal pap at 17 and had a cone biopsy and ended up with an infection. It was a devastating experience and the lowest point in my life. I have a lot of scar tissue on my cervix and haven't been able to get pregnant. I'm told I'd need medical assistance, which all sounds revolting. We've decided to try adoption. My doc was honest with me. I shouldn't have been tested so young, it causes incorrect results. I didn't need that cone biopsy, I went through it for nothing. Now doctors have come clean and have actually said no testing before 21. They have known for many years this testing destroys the lives of young women. The evidence was there from the UK and Europe. Never accept a doctor's advice and be extemely careful with this test. Most of the "information" we recieve is deliberately put together to get us to test, not to inform us. It's not truthful and omits really important facts.
- —Guest Adele
This is bad
- We've used condoms for 14 years because my wife won't agree to have an annual physical. I understand why she doesn't want it, but it means we can't get hormonal birth control. I resent doctors using their authority to block women from pills until they meet their demands. I think it should be up to the woman whether she wants preventative screening. I know these exams and test have nothing to do with the pills, it's just a way of taking away a woman's right to choose. I do find it shameful that we as a society allow this to go on and on. I'll keep using condoms, the alternative is far worse. I'm not asking the woman I love to "submit" just to get Pills. I've never faced anything like this...as a male I do as I like. Doctor's do seem to feel they are somehow entitled to mistreat women and that is something we all need to change. I have written a few letters complaining about the situation. Anyway, condoms are not so bad, we can both enjoy our sex life, free of exams and tests.
- —Guest Mike
Respect for women's rights please.....
- Historically, the medical profession has always treated women very badly and that usually means taking liberties with our bodies and dignity. The disrespect is well entrenched and cancer screening has resulted in another paternalistic exercise in the abuse of women's bodies. Men are respected and their informed consent matters, women are treated like bodies that can be manipulated and harmed. People talk about the loss of bodily autonomy, I don't think doctors have ever regarded women as having bodily autonomy. The harm caused to the majority of women by screening is a hidden shame. Most women harmed never consented, wanted or needed the test in the first place. I'm hopeful a class action will result in a breaking down of the accepted attitude that deceit and unethical tactics can be used against women, but never men. If women don't want this testing for whatever reason, like men, they should be free to refuse. Holding the pill is an example of a unethical tactic...like many others.
- —Guest Law Student
gyn exams are not part of womanhood
- I am 25 years old and I have not had a pap smear - only a pelvic exam when I was 17. It was painful after that I refused to have any more gyn exams. Recently I went to the doctor for the flu. I was so dehydrated I could barely walk. As soon as the nurse came in she asked me the date of my last period and then the date of my last pap smear. When I told her that I had never had one, she looked at me like I was crazy, rolled her eyes, and shook her head. She could not believe at my age I had not had one. She keep saying that's not good - that women's bodies are so complex many things can go wrong. The fact that I had not had been having regular gyn exams seemed to personally offend her - like I had broken the law of being a woman, as if it was unspeakable that I had not had a pap smear. The doc didn't mention a pap smear and I would have not agreed to one anyway. I'm sick of hearing all womenn need to be responsible and go to the gyno. You never hear about a woman's choice in the media.
- —Guest kleigh
Risk assessments are important
- I don't avoid them, I've decided not to have them. My husband and I were high school sweethearts and lost our virginity to each other at 18. You can't get HPV from a virgin. Testing runs the risk of false positives and then ending up having laser treatment or some other awful treatment. My risk of this cancer is too low to worry about. Dr's still try to screen me, but I'm a Uni graduate and can hold my own. All screening should enable women to assess their own risk and make the right choice for them. It's absurd to say we all have the same risk. Some women might prefer to accept the small risk, because they know they wouldn't cope with hospital treatment for a false positive. The risk of that happening is high although doctors will whitewash over that. The pressure we face is because doctors fear law suits and all this treatment brings in lots of dollars. I agree with the others...it shows disrespect for women and a lack of concern for our rights, heath and autonomy.
- —Guest Alexandra
Check the risk factors
- I had cryo at 21 and then had trouble getting pregnant because of scar tissue. An English Dr said I should never have been tested at 21 because it results in bad outcomes. We get treatment for something that looks abnormal...but its actually the normal changes that happen in young women. I now follow that doctors advice as I have no wish for more damaging cryo. I was told any young woman having cryo or anything else for an abnormal smear doesn't need that treatment and shouldn't be having smears at all. They recommend paps when you turn 25 (she thinks 30 is safer) and then 3 or 5 yearly. After looking at the risk factors though...my risk is so low, I'll send her an email and get more advice. I might not have them at all. I was told my risk of having more cryo etc was quite high while the risk of cancer very low. It might not be worth it, the test has done enough damage already. Your Q: No, it should be an option. It's not fair to force tests on us that can have bad outcomes.
- —Guest Amber
- After reading this thread, I asked my Dr some questions. My Dr told me the insanity that prevails in the States is about money and fear of being sued... Your doctors treat women very poorly..they prefer to over-screen and over-treat, harming you because they think that's the better option for THEM. Fear of being sued is the motivator and making heaps of money. My Dr said many women end up with serious injuries as a result of your system. Our doctors recommend pap smears 5 yearly from 30 but not one has ever been rude or put pressure on me. I'd leave and find another Dr if any tried that.. I get the Pill with a blood pressure test. The stirrup thing you have is not something our doctors recommend. My Dr said it's absurd to say a healthy woman needs that and says it would also hurt lots of women. I think you should fear your doctors, not cancer!
- —Guest BJ
Healthcare - don't make me laugh!
- My sister had a cone biopsy in 2007 at age 23, it was negative. The experience was so traumatic that she developed post traumatic stress disorder and an anxiety disorder. The whole experience was brutal. Her psychiatrist said she often sees woman adversely affected by screening. She totally disagrees with forcing and pressuring women into testing. She told us my sister's risk of cancer was too small to calculate and all women face a fairly high risk of having negative biopsies. My sister will never have screening again. We're hopeful she'll recover shortly. My sister was placed under extreme pressure to screen and given no risk information whatsoever. Her psychiatrist has written to her GP and to the screening authority complaining about their conduct. She says my sister could take action as she didn't consent to the test in the first place. My sister now has cervical stenosis and will have issues in the future - all for nothing and to cover a minute risk of cancer.
- —Guest Monica
Leave me alone
- GL, your post hit a nerve with me. I faced the same horror...abnormal pap after abnormal pap and all the biopsies were normal/negative. My doctor tried to keep me on this roller coaster nightmare. I think this adds up to big bucks for doctors and they don't seem to care about what they are actually doing to us. This bad experience has affected me negatively. I avoid doctors altogether now, haven't seen one in 15 years. I see them as people who dishonestly harm women and strip away our dignity. None of this is good for women, it's good for doctors. The damage they cause should not be brushed under the carpet - we all matter, not just the small number who get cancer. I think women are treated shockingly by the profession...we're lied to, ordered and scared into tests and exams, our dignity is erased and our health is taken away. I now hate being a woman. Doctors have convinced me women are dirty and disease prone. Instead of embracing our femaleness, it's turned into a bad thing.
- —Guest Sue
- The accepted thinking that women are not entitled to make their own health decisions and do not have the right to bodily autonomy is totally abhorrent to me. The women who also endorse that thinking should be ashamed of themselves - what did we fight for all those years ago? To accept that women have no say in penetrative vaginal exams for a rare cancer with a test that often leads to harmful and painful biopsies or cryotherapy for nothing is shameful. To make healthy women think their bodies are hazardous and need regular probing, scrapping and palpation is absurd and offensive. It is a sick way to think... The constant indignity, pain and suffering that flows from the regime called women's health is far more harmful than cervical or any other sort of cancer. The damage done "supposedly" to fight cancer, is nothing more than using women's bodies for financial gain. I protect my body from "women's health" - my chances are much better with cancer!
- —Guest HE
Find the right Dr for you...
- I've never agreed that women must do as they're told and are not to make their own decisions with healthcare. Informed consent is a principle of screening for a reason - risk to a healthy person. The actual facts seem to be suppressed when it comes to women and screening and the attitude is, do as you're told, even if it hurts and upsets you. I strongly disapprove of this attitude and think big changes are needed. Every woman should find a Dr who respects her as an adult - freeze out Dr's who treat women like children - let other women know to stay away from them. My Dr does not agree with screening at all and so his patients are free to choose - a nurse does testing for those who want it. I see a female dr who works in his practice even though I've rarely needed an embarrassing exam - I've had one urinary tract infection in my 37 years. I wouldn't put up with the pressure many women face, I'd find a more respectful Dr.
- —Guest Berry
- I stopped having pap smears after my last one about 3-4 years ago. I cried in pain and screamed on the table. The doctor wouldnt stop and wouldnt make an effort to stop the pain. I bled and hurt for days. I havent had once since. I even stopped taking birth controll and resorted to having my husband get a vasectomy although its not what we wanted because they refused to give me pills without having a exam. Im uninsured and recently looked into applying to a free clinic and they told me pap smears were requirments for female patients - refusal meant no services thru them. Its horrible. The exams are painful, they are embarassing, and they are humiliating. We as human beings have a right to choose what we want done to us. Id consider forced exams a form of rape!! No matter how they are forced - withholding birth controll, mandatory for your place as a patient, or whatever else. Its wrong.
- —Guest GuestK
I was asked...
- Doctors got caught out in NZ years ago and informed consent became a huge issue and got lots of publicity. As a result, I think we get more information and doctors seem to have more respect for informed consent. You'll also see consent mentioned in the brochures released by the Govt Health Dpt. The reason screening was put under the spotlight - a Dr decided to conduct an experiment without telling women. Women are usually uninformed about this testing, so I suppose he thought it was more of the same. He treated some abnormal lesions and left others to see how many actually progress. (aware the majority don't need treatment at all and will regress) Well, over the years, a couple of women got cervical cancer and a huge outcry followed... As a result of the publicity, the information got out to women. You'll find articles here on informed consent and doctors actually ask whether you want the test. (mine did) I haven't decided yet, but I have risk information. It MUST be your choice.
- —Guest Betty C
Not all Dr's agree
- I can't agree that forcing preventative medicine on women is something we should be proud of or "for their own good". As I understand it, cancer testing should be something the woman decides for herself. I was given some of this information by my Dr. I strongly disagree with misleading women. This is my body and I want the whole story. We whitewash scary stories for kids, not for women. Forcing anyone, even pressuring, is stepping over the ethical line in my book. My Dr doesn't pressure her patients - she's a rare Dr and that's why her patients respect and admire her. She has told me she doesn't agree with the way cancer screening tests for women have been packaged...she does tell her patients the test is not 100% correct and might only be 50% correct and she told me about the fairly high risk of an incorrect test result and what a colposcopy entailed... I found out recently my Dr lectures in medical ethics at the Medical School - hopefully, she will make future Dr's think...
- —Guest Victoria
Fear of cancer v fear of control
- I have mixed feelings about this topic. On one hand, I'm terrified of cancer and will do anything to lessen the risk. I agree that women have few choices in their medical care. We are told rather than offered tests and we rarely play a part in the decision making. The bad thing about screening is the escalating control of our lives by doctors. You almost stop being a person and just hand over your body and have things done to it. I don't agree with doctors telling us half the story. I'm scared of cancer, but also hate hospitals and indignity. I would equally hate to have treatment unnecessarily. We all have a right to protect ourselves. If the risk is small and unnecessary treatment high, then we need those facts to make a properly considered decision. It's a bit arrogant to say we think you should take the risk, without telling us the risk we're taking...almost arrogant and unprofessional. I tend to avoid Dr's too, the control gets to me, it cheapens you as a person, a woman.
- —Guest Dina