How many women won’t go to doctors because of pap test coercion?

Many women are choosing to opt out of pap tests.  Unfortunately, some of these women are not having their choices respected by their health care providers and are experiencing coercion.

A poll published on this site asked women three questions related to pap test coercion.  Since publication hundreds of women have responded to the poll questions and the results reveal some surprising insights into women’s health care experiences.

The first poll question asked women “Have you felt pressured into having a pap test that you did not want?“.  A total of 512 women have responded.  The vast majority of women (457 out of 512 = 89.26%) responded that yes, they had felt pressured into having an unwanted pap test.

The second poll question asked “Has your doctor withheld medications or healthcare when you have said ‘no’ to a pap test?“.  A total of 442 women have responded.  More than half of the women who responded (235 out of 442 = 53.17%) have experienced the withholding of medications or healthcare when they refused a pap test.

The third and final poll question asked “Have you stopped going to doctors because you are worried about being pressured into a pap test?“.  A total of 506 women have responded.  The majority of women (431 out of 506 = 81.62%) responded that yes, they had stopped going to visit doctors because of concern about being pressured into having a pap test.

The responses reveal that many women are experiencing unwanted pressure to have a pap test, that they are having medications and/or healthcare withheld when they refuse a pap test, and that many have stopped visiting doctors altogether because of concern about being coerced into an unwanted pap test.

The poll is still open and can be accessed here:  The comments underneath the poll reveal further details about women’s experiences related to pap test coercion.

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  1. Hi Linda hope the job hunting going well and you found something by now. I’m pretty good thanks. ..I’m controlling the migraine pretty well. I know my triggers and haven’t been bad for a while. Thinking of u x

    • This is a very sad story. It reinforces my view that screening is all about getting women through the door and making the figures look good and that any possible diagnosis is lost in the race to fit in as many appointments as possible. It’s shocking – but not unusual that this poor women seems to be the victim of such casual negligence.

      • I read it again this morning and it stood out to me that her daughter is saying how passionate her mother was about women getting their smear tests. I obviously understand that but her mother was let down time and time again by the program and the NHS.

        It absolutely reinforces the fact the program is about numbers, bums on seats and protecting the program at all costs. Even a grief stricken loved one is willing to essentially cover for the program because they’ve been fed so much propaganda.

      • I don’t mean to be funny, but even in these articles, someone somewhere always mentions how “important” screening is. Her diagnosis was received within three years of her receiving a negative smear result if I an correct, yet no one questions this, and they continue to extol the virtues of screening.

    • The “fact box” at the bottom of the article has confused cervical cancer with womb cancer, saying rhe disease is due to obesity and goes on to say that being too fat results in excess oestrogen circulating which is a cause of the disease. This is nothing to do with cervical cancer but is a cause of womb cancer. No wonder women are confused when the media print errors like this.

  2. I’m on some medications that need on going visits to my doctor. Every time I come in, I hear that I need a paper smear. That seems to be more what my doctor is concerned about, then questions on my medications. It gets old having it either said to me or given on the paper you get when you leave. I’m fully aware that I have choices when it comes to healthcare too.

    • Yes. They seem to obsess about this rare cancer to the point of almost ignoring actual, diagnosed problems or medications to treat those problems. I understand. It gets annoying to be pestered that way – it’s kind of like seeing a bad date from high school and a used car salesman at the same time – when you tried to get actual medical care!

      If I were that obsessed about a rare disease, which I had no symptoms of, which I did not have a family history of, and demanded to be tested for every year or 6 months, they’d send me to therapy. When they obsess about my vagina, it’s somehow in my best interest.

      There are choices, but those choices all run the sales pitch. You can get medications online or from foreign countries to treat the conditions yourself. IMnsHO, alternative medicine does not work – an alternative healer can give you someone nice and caring to talk to, It just takes your money. However, placebo effect is placebo effect, and that’s much of what ordinary medicine works on too.

  3. I normally stay off of health sites because I can’t stand the lies and propaganda. I just came across the health .com site. “Disturbing trend young woman are skipping Pap smears. “. The obgyn had the guts to say that “cervical cancer is still fairly common.” Spewing statistics I’m sure are scewed. This Obyn thinks it’s good that woman can screen for HPV at home. Hinting that lots of women that normally whoulnt screen whould start going into gynecologist to sort out these HPV positive findings. I’m sure using fear. She said nothing compares to yearly well woman exams . Y’all can read it for yourselves. This Gynecologist seems desperate to keep the yearly exams going. It’s all propaganda. They know less woman are having these expensive yearly screening s . So much lost revenue. It’s so laughable I’m glad not to be a sheep and know the truth.

    • Thanks Ada. Liverpool ranks 157 at 70%. I suspect the areas that have 80% or more are still using strong arm tactics against women. It has to be that reason. The areas with much lower uptake probably reflect a more honest picture of a women’s ability to choose.

      I see the last one is about tips to improve uptake. The usual coercive, bullying tactics that you’d normally expect from them. reminders, all contact with the surgery etc, etc. One sentence at the bottom of the page only about it being our choice.

  4. Hi Ada. Thanks I’ve been able to get my GPs stats. It looks like there is a decline in the younger ones getting smears but the older ones are higher around 75% which I think is high. Our practice nurse is a bossy little sh!t I don’t like her at all. She probably bullies women into having them. Not me though I stand up to her.

  5. Linda my town has a HIGH BAME population and os classed as deprived hence it’s assumed fewer women screen. I remember reading though take up was higher here than in some leafy posh towns. I know I was certainly pushed a lot about screening. .Maybe because I’m not BAME they thought I’d be more relaxed about getting my vagina out? My friends with different practices report varied experience. Some are was asked to put in writing her reasons for not having smears though she does have mammos. Others report that their practice don’t push it.

    • Hi Kat

      I don’t think anyone should have to ‘put it in writing’ that they wont be having smears. It should be enough that a women declines an invite my ignoring it.

      I’m sorry about your friend who got injured because of bowel screening. This is a new one they’re shoving down our throats. Ridiculous!!!

      Cheers to BAME women who don’t put up with any nonsense.

      • They know all-too-well that the BAME women (I had to look up what this meant) will not put up with it AT ALL, and the whole thing will get quickly put down if they try it. Women don’t talk about these “girly things” to men, so most men are unaware of what happens. Heck, some of them seem to think it’s a hygiene thing where we have things “all cleaned out” from those messy periods or sex, while others think we just talk about our periods. If a big public stink comes from it, and, sadly, some violence, I think it will be publicly seen for the intrusion it is. I hate to think of how the average man might react if he finds he’s been cuckolded for years, by his wife who felt she had no choice – and thinks of his mother, grandmother, sisters, and daughters going through the same things – and he had no idea.

        Bowel screening applies to everyone, and with the sigmoid testing – which has been an “alternative” in the US for a long time – as it can be done in the doctor’s office, without the “waking anesthesia” – and with objections for a colonscopy, they can spring this on you as “We can do this today!”

        I’ve known numerous people who were injured by these bowel screenings. Probably the saddest was an 80+ year old neighbor, who knew he had colon cancer, and they were doing yet-another colonscopy “to see how treatment was progressing”. End of the day, he never came home, and was dead within 2 months.

  6. Reporting on a recent doctor’s appointment I had… Although I am “lucky” in that I don’t get forced into paps at my current physician’s office, i.e. raped, there is still pressure that makes me postpone visits as much as possible. Hadn’t sat down with the nurse for even 2 minutes before “when was your last pap?” Which apparently is more important than my annual labwork which I haven’t had done in years either but no mention of that. Also no mention of my sky high blood pressure and heart rate due to fear. Interesting. One thing we have on our side is that anyone pushing paps over annual labwork and abnormal vitals is not all that bright. The doctor doesn’t seem interested in forcing me into anything I don’t want but the nurse is a different story. As Linda has mentioned in her book, it seems to give the nurses a sense of purpose and of having more serious medical responsibilities then taking blood pressure.

    • Also to follow up on pressure to get the smear at the doctor, I recently discovered this gem…

      Imagine going to a doctor’s appointment and being bombarded with pink streamers, pink balloons, and posters covered in images of handbags and lipstick that say “I’m not leaving here without booking my smear.” This is a celebration of misogynist harassment and medical violence against women. But wait there’s more, how would you feel if you got an “invitation” to screen printed on pink paper?

      At the end of the article they attribute an increase in screening uptake to recall and opportunistic screening. So in other words, the women were bombarded and ambushed. Not to mention degraded and infantilized by a barrage of pink party decorations. SO MUCH FUN!

  7. Hey everyone! I’m entering anonymously once again, as I have come here a few times before and I’m happy about the support I’ve received. So, I’ve been needing to renew my prescription for my birth control pills. I am married, so yes I use it to prevent pregnancy, but my main reason for using it is because I used to have unbearably painful periods. However, they said I NEEDED to come in for a pap smear, and this time, they did not give me a choice. Last time, they didn’t even bring it up. But now, for SOME reason, now that I need more pills, I guess my reproductive health is just gonna deteriorate just because, right? I am literally shaking right now and I can’t stop crying, because if I don’t go in for the exam, they won’t give me another refill. THEY DID NOT. GIVE ME. A CHOICE. Guys… what do I do?? My husband won’t be able to go with me to support me because he has to work that day, and I’m still crying about it. I’m also afraid that they might be rude if they see me crying during the exam because I’m a “big girl now” (I’m 25) and “I should get used to it because I’m a woman now and this is how it’ll be for the rest of my life.” Uh no… Being a women does not make me born with cancerous cells. What do I do?! If I don’t go they won’t give me another refill, and I really just feel powerless now because they didn’t give me a choice this time. Why does needing more birth control pills mean we HAVE to get checked??? This is why I wish pills were just on the shelves at stores, like, ya know… condoms are, because seriously getting a prescription for them is SUCH A HASSLE. There is NOTHING wrong with me! Why did they force me into this? Last time, I said no, and they said “okay maybe another time just let us know.” But this time, I was forced. I didn’t have the choice to say no. HELP!!!!! 😦

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