Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Cervical Smears

Just to remind you, October is Cancer Awareness Month.

As part of the rebuilding of Joanna Cake, I decided to get my physical health checked up, as well as continuing to work on my mental attitude with the Counsellor.

I booked my cervical smear. It is three years since my last one and, in that time, Ruf's semen has been spurted against my cervix on many occasions. According to Wikipaedia, a human papillomavirus (HPV) is a papillomavirus that infects the epidermis and mucous membranes of humans. HPV can lead to cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, and anus in women. In men, it can lead to cancers of the anus and penis. Carriers and sufferers can be asymptomatic and genital warts seems to be the only obvious sign of a problem but this does not occur in all cases.

We have to remember that cervical cancer is caused by only one or two types of the virus, hence the current decision in the UK to vaccinate young women aged between 13 and 18, even those who have already had sexual intercourse, in the hope that they have so far not been exposed to either strain.

There has been a great furore in the British press recently because a young girl died a few hours after being given the vaccine. It later transpired that she had other health problems which were actually the cause of her death, but a great deal of bad publicity was given to this unfortunate event, to the detriment of the cervical cancer vaccination programme.

From the fact that all my smear tests have been normal, clearly the father of my children was not a carrier and, whilst Ruf had a full sexual health check before we became physically involved, as far as I am aware, this virus is not something that they check for in men as part of that test. So, three years on, with no apparent symptoms, I had my PAP test and kept my fingers crossed.

In the past, my cervical smears were always done at round day 17 of my cycle - as late as possible in the time parameters so that ovulation could be sure to have occurred. Without the sticky residue that accompanies this, there were repeated callbacks because of insufficient cells on the slide. Of course, at my time of life, my periods are few and far between. I have had a blood test to check my FSH levels and been told that the chances of my ovulating are very small indeed due to the high level of the reading. However, the test parameters were for samples taken on day 3-5 of a cycle and this was not a quantifiable date when I hadn't had a day 1 for some months. I booked the smear and the following day my period decided to come back from its holidays, so I had to rearrange it all.

The much-publicised death of Jade Goody from cervical cancer at the age of 28 has also seen a huge increase in the take-up of tests offered to older women on the NHS and, therefore, the results are taking six weeks or more to come through because of the backlog.

However, what has become known as the 'Jade Goody effect' has also caused a lot of young woman under 25 to request a cervical smear but this is not currently available to them on the basis that statistics show the risk to these women is not so great as for those over 25, which seems very wrong since there are still women dying in their 20s as a result of this disease going undetected, Ms Goody being a very prominent example.

In the event, for me, the smear itself went smoothly and enough cells were collected to provide an adequate sample for testing, although I did not have another period for the next four months so could not have ovulated in the required timeframe.

Fortunately, after six weeks, the results came through clear, but they did advise me that there was candida present and so I was sent a prescription for a Canesten pessary.

I have not used the treatment because I have decided to investigate this invasion further. My repeated bouts of thrush and cystitis, combined with various other symptoms have led me to believe that I might have a yeast intolerance which is now leaching out through my intestines into other parts of my body. I have found a diet that precludes yeast and other fungi, plus their food source: sugar and processed wheat flour. I am also taking various herbal preparations to destroy the candida bacteria along with probiotics to restore the balance of good and bad within my gut.

More on this at a later date.


Anonymous said...

Very important reminder to check and keep checking. Glad your tests ended up OK.


Polar said...

You are Such a Wise and Knowledgeable Woman! You are also not afraid to teach from your own life.
Thank you, My Friend, I have learned more from you, again, today.

Mr. Nighttime said...

Early screening for ANY form of cancer is always a wise thing, so keep it up. My mom is the poster child for early detection of breast cancer. She survived it twice because of that, and has been cancer free for almost 8 years as a result.

I have to go and get colonoscopies every year because I have ulcerative colotis, but I know it's for the best. Besides, the sedation drugs they give me are worth the price of admission alone. Best legal high I ever had...and I don't remember a thing afterwards. ;-)

Gorilla Bananas said...

Let's hope you never develop an intolerance for fucking!

Doom said...

I hope you do not mind that I read this. As a man, and a scientist, and, well, someone curious about the other types of people, this is interesting. Though not a biologist, I did catch the gist. The last bit was not well understood, I must admit. Though, it leaves a question as to why men are not included in testing? Is it due to disinterest by men or about men?

Sorry to intrude, if that is how this is seen.

Joanna Cake said...

SG - We all need to go regularly!

Polar - x

Mr N - In the early days, I often wished I could have a sedative for my PAP smear! However, I then worked out that if I went at about day 17, rather than day 11, it made a whole world of difference in terms of comfort. Prevention is always better than cure and those colonoscopies, although unpleasant, mean that you dont worry unnecessarily.

Mr B - Heaven forfend!!! Although, Im sure Ruf's enthusiasm in that area does not help with the cystitis. It's not called Honeymoon Sickness for nothing :P

Doom - Hiya, not sure which bit you're not understanding? The link between candida and thrush? I think the reason they dont test men for the PAP virus is that there are so many different strains and so many people are carriers. Only two of these variants are linked to cervical cancer, so maybe it's just not cost-effective to try to isolate which men are carriers of which type...? However, I suppose it does mean that guys who have sex anally are probably as much at risk of cancer as women...?

nitebyrd said...

Good to know your test was clear.