Tuesday 23 January 2018

Younger women are more likely to seek smear tests

A lot more young women make appointments for cervical smear tests. (Picture posed)
A lot more young women make appointments for cervical smear tests. (Picture posed)

Danielle Stephens

YOUNG women are more likely to look after their sexual health than older women.

New figures show that women under the age of 35 are a third more likely to present for smear tests than women over 40. This is despite the average age of diagnosis for cervical cancer being 43.

And older women are also less likely to consider the need for contraception or a full STI screening. The assessment of nearly 40,000 patients at the Dublin Well Woman Centre confirmed that chlamydia continues to be the most prevalent STI in Irish society. According to the organisation's annual report, 2,950 women under the age of 35 availed of a free smear test, in comparison to just 1,980 women between the ages of 40-50. Nationally, younger patients are happier to have the cervical check.

The most recent figures published in March by Cervical Check Ireland showed that 78pc of women aged 25-35 presented for a smear test.

This figure was lower for women aged 40-44 (70pc) and only 48pc of women over 60 years of age had the test.

It is believed that women juggling family commitments and jobs are less likely to be mindful of when their next check is scheduled for.

"If women go through their 20's and 30's without having a smear test, any changes in cervical cells will be significantly difficult to treat," Dr Shirley McQuade, Medical Director of the Centre warned.

The report also showed a trend of women over 40 ignoring the need for contraception because they think they are too old to become pregnant.

However, CSO statistics showed there were 3,766 births to women aged 40-44 and 223 to women over 45 last year.

According to Dr McQuade, the number of women opting for long-acting reversible contraceptive devices (LARCs) is generally increasing, despite a slight decrease in fittings last year.

"LARCs are available in both hormonal and non-hormonal forms and are often used by women who have difficulty remembering to take an oral contraceptive pill," she said.

Irish Independent

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