Saturday, 13 August 2011


Yesterday I received an invitation in the post. It read “I am writing to invite you for a cervical screening test” like it was an invitation to a Tupperware party or a night at the opera. In the UK you only get a PAP smear every 3 years and as many woman are still suspicious there are loads of campaigns to convince you that it is important. Your invitation comes with a leaflet explaining what to expect and why it is important. When 15 minutes of fame celebrity (and I use the term loosely) Jade Goody got cervical cancer her tearful pleas on telly made something like 30% more women have a PAP smear. That was truly her most valuable contribution to society.  If you ignore the letter then others will follow until you are buried under a pile of paperwork and have no choice but to go if only to stop the deforestation of the planet that you are singlehandedly responsible for from your mountains of invitations and leaflets.

I have no problem having a PAP smear done. In the US I had one every year since I was 18. They are not a party, but a necessary part of being a sexually active adult. There is one tiny problem, though. You see—I don’t actually have a cervix anymore. Nope. When I was up for the big op last year, my surgeon asked me if I wanted to keep it. Like a balloon from a really disappointing birthday party, presumably. I toyed with the idea as I had read that some women are less orgasmic without one.  He did say that if I lost my womb but kept my cervix I could expect unexpected breakthrough bleeding or spotting—a.k.a. mini periods and so I declined graciously and opted for a total hysterectomy. That’s not like a valley girl having a hysterectomy—“it was a total hysterectomy, gag me with a spoon”sort of thing. That is the proper name for it. A subtotal hysterectomy takes the womb but leaves the cervix and may or may not take the ovaries and fallopian tubes. A total hysterectomy takes the cervix and the womb and may or may not take the ovaries and fallopian tubes ( I kept mine with the understanding they would probably fail early.) Lastly the skater version—the radical hysterectomy where they take the whole shebang. Dude, that’s radical. Now that the anatomy lesson is over, back to the story.

So I’ll nip over to my local surgery (don’t be freaked out like I was the first time I heard that. All my US peeps are probably thinking surgery means cut, artery, spurt, murder psycho, but a surgery here is just the doctor’s office) and I’ll politely mention it and see if they can write something in the national medical database so I don’t have to keep getting letters until the age of 64 which is when my invitation says they’ll stop sending them. Why 64? Who knows. Probably what Paul McCartney was thinking when he wrote the song.
When I get old
and don’t need a smear
Many years from now.

I am tempted to go ahead and make an appointment and then when they put you in stirrups and have a squinty I can leap up and shout “Ha ha! Made you look!”  since there would be nothing to see. But Spiderman says he doesn’t think the NHS has a sense of humour, so probably not. And I lied about the stirrups. I had 3 smears since I arrived and NONE of them involved stirrups. Maybe if you went to a posh Harley Street gynecologist you might get them, but free smears on the NHS involve a nurse practitioner at your local surgery and you lying on your back like a dead bug and a metal speculum that had been kept in the fridge.

So maybe I won’t really miss this after all. Oh and in case you were worried—you can be plenty orgasmic without a cervix. Thank God for that.


  1. I'm almost afraid to comment on this one. You are one wicked girl! You steal my heart every time.......

  2. Snarky girl! Love the made you look idea...