“If you think something is wrong, go to the doctor”

Today is the last day of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week January, #TeamEve have shared a number of blog posts around different topics, whether it's personal stories, or talking about HPV and the links to cervical cancer. We wanted to raise as much awareness during the week around cervical cancer as possible and hope that you'll join us in doing so.

Last of our personal blogs this week, is Jess telling us about her experience of a scare with cervical cancer.

It was August last year, and I noticed some random spotting. I’d never spotted before, so it was unusual for me. However, I had had the coil fitted in January, so put it down to that. A couple of friends I spoke to said it was common to spot when you have the coil, which reassured me a bit even though it’s supposed to settle within 6 months, not start causing problems after 6 months.

I went on holiday the following month, and was spotting for three-quarters of the time. This definitely wasn’t normal for me and it was now the second month of unusual bleeding. The day I got back I booked a doctor’s appointment, but wasn’t very worried. She said she’d have to do some swabs and check for infections and STI’s. These results were clear, but I still didn’t have an outcome to why I had been bleeding, and I even bled after the doctor’s examination. I made another appointment and whilst examining me, she asked if anybody had mentioned cervical ectropion to me before, and I said no.

My last smear test was all clear, and I’d had a baby since then. The doctor said my next one was due in January, and I wouldn’t be able to have one earlier than that. She referred me to a gynaecology department on the urgent 2-week pathway, which rang alarm bells and I felt really worried. We wanted to try for a second baby, and I didn’t know if we would now need to put those plans on hold. The bleeding had tailed off by the time I saw the gynaecologist, but she wanted to refer me for a scan, just to check. We talked about putting baby plans on hold until we knew the outcome. She examined me and said there was definitely something going on, and that she was going to refer me for a colposcopy. I felt uneasy as no timescale for this next appointment could be given. For reassurance, I booked a private smear test, and that came back all clear, so I was really relieved.

By this point I had an appointment for a scan and a colposcopy. The scan was all clear, which combined with a clear smear result made me feel positive. I told myself that the colposcopy would also be fine and was just the final tick box.  I had the colposcopy on 8th December, and I could see on the screen that there was inflammation on my cervix and it was bleeding, but I’d had no vaginal bleeding. The doctor said she would need to take a biopsy, and it could be nothing but she needed to check. I told her we wanted to try for a baby and she said that having a colposcopy wouldn’t affect anything, but if I were pregnant and needed treatment, I would have to wait until after I’d had the baby, i.e. pregnancy would delay treatment. I received the results in between Christmas and New Year, they said there were no abnormalities and that I needed to have a follow up colposcopy in a year’s time. I’m assuming that it was cervical ectropion, but I haven’t had any more bleeding. If I start spotting again, then I will book an appointment with my GP straight away.

“It’s so important to know what bleeding is normal for you. I could have ignored my abnormal bleeding, had something untoward going on, become pregnant and missed the treatment window. If you think something is wrong, go to the doctor. An examination can either put your mind at rest, or if something is going on, you can get the treatment you need.”