Not a fan of the speculum

This morning I jumped into the car to do the school drop off, when I turned on ABC Sydney radio, only to hear Wendy Harmer finish off a segment with the sentence “I am not a fan of the speculum.”

This made me think “Who bloody well is!” then realised that there must be more to this story. Was something happening to our dreaded duck-bill?

I have an interest in cervical cancer and encouraging women to keep up with their screening for I once was diagnosed with HPV. I had unusual cells on ye olde cervix many moons ago. This was due to a phase I went through when I was blossoming into my sexual awakening and I sewed my wild oats accordingly.

Oh who the fuck am I kidding! I also sewed fields of barley, wheat and triticale. (What! Don’t judge me! It was the nineties!)

Anyway, my rudimentary research has uncovered the Governments plans to scrap the speculum and replace it with a “self swab” situation that is then sent away for testing. There is opposition against this plan of course. Nobody likes change! But having taken up the fight against HPV, the virus that can lead to cervical cancer, started in 1991, Australia now has one of the lowest rates of this type of “fuck you” cancer in the world. Worrying, however, is the data that shows that Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders are dying from this cancer at four times the rate other woman, makes me think that this form of testing might make it more accessible for this group to get screened. As well as us who suffer from “white coat Anxiety” (a feat of visiting the doctor.)


Let’s be frank. No one LOVES getting a pap smear and it is this anxiety that makes women put this off. Many women never get one at all. Last year 250 women died from cervical cancer out of 903 cases diagnosed. As with most cancers, early detection is extremely important.

So at of the beginning of December, we might see the duck-bill released in a carefully orchestrated rehabilitation program, released into the lakes of the medical history books. Watch this space.

And yes Wendy, I too am not a fan of the speculum. But I give thanks to it and all that it did for me over the years. ONWARDS!



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