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28th Feb 2022

Health: Deterioration in attending cervical screening linked to the menopause

Melissa Carton

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Have you been for your screening?

New research conducted by Besins Healthcare has revealed that one quarter of women (25 per cent) aged 45 – 65 who are experiencing perimenopause or the menopause are not regularly attending cervical screening appointments.

When asked why their participation decreased, 35 per cent of women reported that they found their cervical screening to be more painful or uncomfortable as a result of changes in their vaginal health.

During the research it was discovered that 17 per cent of menopausal women believe that they are no longer eligible to attend screenings and 12 per cent believe that as they could no longer get pregnant, screening was not required, both of which are incorrect.

These findings demonstrate that there are some misconceptions regarding the need for cervical screening when reaching the menopause and beyond.

Speaking to us on the issue, Dr Caoimhe Hartley, GP and owner of Menopause Health said;

“The menopause brings about many changes for women and thankfully more awareness and understanding of these symptoms has come about in recent years.

However, what this research serves to highlight is that the menopause is leading to a decline in regular cervical screening which could lead to increased mortality if they were to develop cervical cancer at this stage of life.

With approximately half of women going through perimenopause or the menopause experiencing vaginal atrophy, and 35 per cent of women claiming that the screening is more painful or uncomfortable as a result, it is understandable why they may decline to participate in a cervical screen, but there are a range of ways to make the experience more comfortable and the first port of call is to discuss this with your GP.

There are many solutions available that can alleviate the problem of vaginal atrophy, enabling you to attend cervical screening which has the potential to save your life.”

In Ireland, approximately 300 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year, of that 300 almost 90 women will die from it.

That being said 90 per cent of cases can be identified and treated in a simple outpatient procedure if caught early.

This underlines the need for all women to participate in cervical screening at all stages of life, even post-menopause.