Why it’s more important than ever to prioritise female health

Cervical screening and mammograms are important screenings to prevent cancer. They aim to detect any abnormal changes in your cells, before you or your doctor notices any signs of a problem.

New research has shown a decline in searches on Google since the start of 2020 - for both of these female health checks.

Reach out if you spot anything unusual

With the majority of female health concerns, especially breast cancer, the key is spotting and treating problems early. You should regularly check your breasts to spot any changes. Becoming more aware of how they usually look and feel will help you to feel confident about noticing any changes. If you do spot anything unusual, it’s important to speak to your GP and get this checked as soon as you can.

Cervical screening is not a test for cancer - it is used to help prevent cancer. A sample is checked for certain “high risk” types of HPV. If these are not found, then nothing further is done but if these types of HPV are present then the cells from the sample are checked for any changes. If any abnormal cells are found and these are left untreated, it could lead to cancer.

Having regular cervical screening will identify any abnormalities – these may not be cancerous, and mild abnormalities don’t always need to be treated. Depending on the result, you may need to have treatment to remove or destroy the abnormal cells. In any case, your GP should contact you with next steps, and will be able to answer any concerns you have.

Some people may find a smear test uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t hurt. If it does hurt or if you’re feeling especially nervous, let your nurse know so they can try and make you more comfortable. Try to relax, as this should reduce any discomfort you feel.

A mammogram procedure may be uncomfortable due to the nature of the test, but this discomfort only lasts a few seconds. If you are worried about the procedure being painful, let your nurse or doctor know before the procedure begins.

Only a small percentage of breast lumps turn out to be cancer. If you notice a lump in your breast, it’s very important to get this checked by your doctor; a lump or change to the feel or appearance of your breasts should never be ignored.

You should check your breasts whenever it is convenient for you. Do it as often as you feel you need to do so, as it’s important to notice any changes quickly. Any changes to your breast to how they feel, or look should be noticed and reported to your GP.

It’s important that you check your breasts regularly and attend your female health appointments. Mammograms are an important procedure for women over the age of 50, as most cancers found during a mammogram are at an early stage when they are too small to see or feel; meaning you may not have noticed a change in appearance or touch.

Female health checks across all ages are there to detect any early signs of abnormalities and cancer. It’s important to attend all of your female health checks and regularly examine yourself. Even if you’re showing no unusual symptoms, you must attend your checks as these can detect abnormalities before you start showing any symptoms. Early detection is key to effectively treating cancers; attending all appointments – even if you’re feeling well – is vital.

NHS routine female health checks

Depending on your age, there are routine female health tests available on the NHS. It's really important to attend these appointments, so if you're worried you should speak to your nurse or GP about any concerns you may have.

What female health checks do Bupa offer?

Alongside the NHS female health checks mentioned, you can get your health checked with us. We offer:

Cancer support

Our health insurance offers cancer support through our cancer care promise; if you are worried you may have cancer, you can call us directly and speak to our trained advisers about your symptoms. They will give you clear advice on what to do next.

Female health concerns

Digital GP services where you can speak to a doctor from the comfort of your home about any female health concerns you have. This is included as part of your health insurance.

Female health assessments

If you don’t have health insurance, you can talk through any female health concerns relating to breast and gynaecological health by booking a female health assessment at one of our Bupa Health Clinics.

Read how Bupa helped Anna during her cancer diagnosis and treatment

Our Women’s Health Hub

Our Women’s Health Hub explores key health concerns for women, from expert advice about particular conditions to screening information and even guides for the workplace.

Women's health hub

Interested in finding out more?

Here’s some useful female health articles you may be interested in

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Bupa Health Assessments and Private GP services are provided by Bupa Occupational Health Limited. Registered in England and Wales No.631336. Registered office: 1 Angel Court, London EC2R 7HJ