Aug 17, 2019 | Updated: 07:24 AM EDT

The Truth about Cervical Health Services for Women with Physical Disabilities

Aug 10, 2019 08:19 AM EDT

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Women's Health
(Photo : Glodi Miessi)

Physical disabilities could take a toll on a person's way of living. According to a recent study, the physical disability among women has hindered over 60% of the said demographic in taking various essential procedures such as smear test screening.

In the study performed by Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, a charitable institution, it was revealed that women with physical disabilities are being discriminated against when they attempt to Set an appointment for cervical screening. With 335 women that were surveyed for the study, it was found out that 88% of the participants had a feeling that it is more difficult to attend a cervical screening because of their physical disability. The said participants were surveyed as they have health conditions that are significant to the study, which includes cerebral palsy, paraplegia, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and spinal muscular atrophy.

The study has also revealed that nearly half of the participants had decided not to take a smear test. According to most of those included in the said group, they have had a negative experience because of their disability when they tried to attend a smear test in the past. This has caused them to choose not to take anymore smear tests.

23% of the participants in the survey have also pointed out that for them to be able to get onto an examination bed, there is a need for extra equipment such as a hoist. Sadly, general practitioners that have bothered to provide the necessary equipment for the appointment of these women have only reached a rate of 1%.

The charity's study has also pointed out the common misconception that people with physical disabilities are not active sexually. According to the study, one for every five women has stated that they have been bombarded with this misconception.

Another revelation that the survey has brought to light was that some of the women in the study were asked to sign waivers that stated their non-acceptance of undergoing a smear test.
Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust's chief executive, Robert Music, has expressed both his dismay and shock with the results of their recent survey. Music pointed out that it is not acceptable for women with physical disabilities to be faced with additional hurdles such as being denied tests that could save their lives. The chief executive later added that seeing the level of stigma on sex and disability is quite worrying.

Some survey participants have pointed out that they have a feeling that nurses and GPs are not taking their needs seriously and are thus neglected. This point was also raised by Dr. Hannah Barham-Brown, a GP trainee and an advocate for disability and gender equity.

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