The cervical cancer charity Jo’s Trust has a campaign that they call #BeCervixSavvy, which is used to encourage women to go along for smear tests. This is my alternative guide to fully understanding your cervix, and what the cervical screening programme entails. You can understand your cervix better than the ‘experts.’ It really isn’t that hard!
Doctors who perform smear tests, and follow up treatments like colposcopy, don’t have a full understanding of how the cervix works. That’s because the cervix and it’s complex arrangement of nerves has not been fully researched. Shockingly although almost every other part of the body has been dissected and mapped out using cadavers (corpses of deceased people), but the female sex organs (cervix, vagina, clitoris etc) hasn’t.
Also little is known about how the cervix connects up to the g-spot and the clitoris, and how it plays a vital role of a women’s sexual pleasure. As Dr. Sandra Carson, of the American Association of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says ’’I would say we know a score of 2 about the female sexual response… and it’s disappointing.’’ The research just hasn’t been done.
Some Doctors will say that the cervix plays no role in orgasm, that it has no nerve endings, and that it’s okay to remove a ‘few abnormal cells’ with treatments like LEEP/LLETZ. But women are reporting side effects like loss of sex drive, difficulties with orgasm, and other profoundly life-changing issues. Anyone who’s had a painful smear will know the cervix does have nerve endings! I’m not the only person who was told that the LEEP involves removing, ‘just a few cells.’ In reality, up to 2cm of the cervix is removed.
When I had my procedure I had no idea that the cervix; this mysterious part of my body I had never even seen or felt, was involved in orgasm, but I have learnt the truth since. If you want to #BeCervixSavvy then google ‘cervical orgasm’ and check out the resources you can find. I am just beginning to research this, but The Holy Grail Of The Cervical Orgasm seemed like a good place to start.
When we understand the role of our cervixes in sexual pleasure, we can understand the devastating impact of cutting into this part of the body. Imagine doing that to a man’s penis or testicles, as a preventative measure for cancer we don’t actually have, and that is actually one of the rarer cancers.
If you need treatment for abnormal cells – Then #BeCervixSavvy and ask your doctor about side effects and alternative treatments. Ask them if the treatment can cause changes in sexual function. They will probably say no.
I reported my side effects to the cervical screening programme and was told, ”Despite the many millions of LLETZ procedures being performed there are no published reports linked to problems with sexual function as result of the procedure.”
However this is completely untrue. There are at least two published research studies about how the LLETZ procedure has negatively impacted women’s sexual function, with more research on the way. Anecdotally every time I share my story, I get messages from women who have experienced the same devastating effects.
I was completely shocked that the cervical screening programme would have no awareness of the latest research in their own field, and it would be left up to me, a layperson with no medical training, to discover the real scientific facts about treatment. This seems to me to be complete and utter ignorance on an epic scale. And they tell us we should #BeCervixSavvy ??
There are doctors such as sexual dysfunction expert Dr. Irwin Goldstein, and discoverer of the g-spot, Dr. Beverly Whipple, who are aware that the LEEP can harm nerves in a woman’s cervix, and her sexual function. We really need to ask ourselves why the rest of the medical system is not aware.
Read Dr. Margaret McCartney’s book The Patient Paradox to make an informed choice about cervical screening and treatment. As she explains the truth behind preventative medicine, that the risks of preventative medicine often outweigh the benefits. She has good arguments about not going for smear tests, and if you do decide to go for them, it’s actually a lot less scary when you’ve been fully informed of the risks and benefits.
Cancer is scary, but nevertheless cervical cancer is one of the rarer cancers, and cervical screening is not as effective as the cervical cancer campaigns try to persuade us, as Dr. McCartney explains.
Another important thing to bear in mind to #BeCervixSavvy is that cervical screening is a business. Even in the UK where we have a public health service GP’s do earn money for every smear test they perform. Cancer charities like Jo’s Trust receive money from Pharmaceutical companies that influence their behaviour and campaigns. Making money and moving the NHS towards a more business focused model is all part of the motivation behind screening campaigns. You can read more about this in The Patient Paradox.
To #BeCervixSavvy is about a lot more than just showing up for your latest smear test, We need to question our ‘trust the doctor’ mentality. Many women, like myself have put our trust in doctors. But these doctors are lacking basic anatomical knowledge, and few of them seem to even realise that’s a problem.
We need to ask why so many women lose their health and sex lives, in order to prevent a cancer they don’t actually have. In the majority of cases, abnormal cells never turn into cancer.
If we want to #BeCervixSavvy as a society we need to listen to women. We need to stop dismissing their side effects. We need to look at the history of the pap smear, and ask ourselves, how on earth did we get to the point of cutting into a part of the body that is not fully understood and then dismissing women who have side effects.
So that’s my guide on how to #BeCervixSavvy. If you need more support then I have an online facebook group, Healing From LEEP.