This is a sponsored conversation written by me with support from Hologic, Inc. The opinions and text are all mine
January is Cervical Health Awareness Month (CHAM) and it is a great time to take charge of your health and open up an honest conversation with your healthcare provider.
For most of us, thoughts of a gynecological exam don’t leave us with happy thoughts. If you are anything like me, the first thought to pop into your head is “did I shave?” rather than mentally running through the list of medical questions you should bring up with to keep your health on track.
I had a bit of a health scare earlier last year. I knew something was wrong but, in the end, it took me 3 visits with my gynecologist before I was brave enough to ask the questions I really wanted to ask.
I brought up the “C” word and my healthcare provider, after listening to my real list of symptoms rather than spending our appointments talking about the weather, told me that my concerns were valid.
We did some testing and found a mass.
Fortunately, it ended up being benign but there was a lot of anxiety while we were waiting for results.
The experience taught me that, as women, we all need to get into the habit of speaking more openly with our healthcare providers in order to get the care that we need.
HealthyWomen and National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health (NPWH), two organizations that do great work for women’s health, have developed a campaign called “Sentiments from the Stirrups.”
After extensive research, they found the same thing that I discovered after my experience with my healthcare provider — there is a disconnect between healthcare providers and women, especially when it comes to cervical health.
There’s no denying that we are talking about sensitive subjects when we visit our healthcare providers. It can feel awkward and with an exam looming, many of us are preoccupied worrying about whether we shaved our legs or used the restroom before we came into the exam room. Did you know that up to 79% of women wonder if they should “go” before their exam? You aren’t alone.
It’s time to open up and have the conversations we need to have with our healthcare providers though. I think it is important to remind ourselves that our questions to not embarrass our healthcare providers so we shouldn’t worry about speaking up.
Most of you probably routinely visit your healthcare provider for a Pap screening. If you don’t, go make an appointment right now.
We’ll wait . . .
Did you know that more than 12,000 women will learn they have cervical cancer this year?
According to the CDC, more than 4,000 women will die from it. Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers in the U.S. so those numbers do not need to be that high.
The Pap test has been one of the most successful cancer screening tools in history and has reduced cervical cancer death rates by more than 70% since it was introduced in the 1950s. That’s an amazing track record!
Did you know there is a second test that can help you protect your health even more?
Your doctor can also screen for the human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes cervical cancer. That is definitely a step in the right direction.
Pap+HPV can detect more cancer and pre-cancer than either test alone for women 30-65. Your doctor may be including both tests when you go in for your Pap and you may not realize it since the test can be done at the same time.
A quick conversation with your healthcare provider can let you know what tests you are having done and open up the opportunity to request Pap+HPV if it wasn’t in the original plan for your visit.
After my scare last year, I’m determined to speak up at my future visits with my healthcare provider. I have 6 kids that need me to stick around for as long as possible and I’m not willing to talk about the weather when I should be asking important questions about my health.
Talk about Pap+HPV at your next GYN exam. To learn more about cervical cancer screening, visit HealthyWomen.org.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Hologic. The opinions and text are all mine.