How it feels to have cervical abnormalities

Around one woman in 20 women will have an abnormal result from a routine cervical screening test (smear test) that may require further testing or treatment.

Following a diagnosis of cervical abnormalities (for which you may have been offered treatment) women can feel a range of different emotions. This is perfectly normal. It is quite common for women to question why this has happened to them and whether or not it could have been prevented. Some women feel angry that the abnormal cells weren't detected earlier or find it difficult to digest a diagnosis of HPV alongside this.

Whilst many women feel absolutely fine and aren't unduly concerned, some might feel anxious, scared or overwhelmed, and some worry about what will happen next [1][2]. It is common for emotions to rollercoaster – where you may feel calm and untroubled one day, and then scared or angry the next.

Women in the Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust's community tell us that their feelings often change over time, as they gradually learn more about what having cervical abnormalities actually means for them. As you will see in the ‘Your feelings may change over time’ section, understanding your situation and the treatment options that are available to you often helps relieve the anxiety and fear that often accompany a diagnosis.

Our community tells us that when women were told they had cervical abnormalities they wanted information and support to help them understand what this meant, cope with the diagnosis and make decisions about any subsequent treatment.

You might find that you want to know more about cervical abnormalities, cervical cancer and its prevention, HPV testing, or the different treatment options available to you (including what to expect if you need to have treatment). We have a wealth of information on these topics on this website, you can find more here. You can also submit questions online to a medical professional through our Ask the Expert service.

Being able to speak with someone who understands what you're going through can be invaluable. This could be one of the medical professionals responsible for your care, such as your colposcopist, practice nurse or your GP. We provide two services which enable you to speak to someone safely and confidentially:

  • You can chat to women who have had personal or professional experience of cervical abnormalities using our freephone helpline on 0808 802 8000.
  • You can use our online forum to connect with women who are going through, or have been through, similar experiences. 

‘This forum has been my 'best friend' for weeks now...’ Forum member, 2015.


References

  1. Posner T et al, 1988. Psychosexual trauma of an abnormal cervical smear. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 95, 729–732.
  2. Rogstad KE, 2002. The psychological impact of abnormal cytology and colposcopy. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 109: 364–368.
Date last updated: 
22 Jan 2016
Date due for review: 
26 Jan 2019

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