Women Are Using Their Annual Leave To Go To Pap smear Appointments - Women's Health

Women Are Using Their Annual Leave To Go To Pap smear Appointments

1 in 5 women and people with a cervix said they’d used annual leave when booking in their smear test.

by | Sep 29, 2021

Despite being a universal reality for women around the world, the stigma associated with periods and other issues related to our cervix remain somewhat taboo in an office setting. It’s why despite the triumphs that have come from the women’s movement and an ongoing fight for justice and equality, things like menstrual leave are slow to be adopted. As many of us have traded an office for the home when it comes to work, the benefits of being able to lie down and rest during painful periods or schedule an important check-up has been apparent. But what happens when we return to the office? As a new survey reveals, more women are using their annual leave to go to pap smear appointments, showing just how unfair the system really is. 

According to research conducted by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, 23 per cent of full-time workers found that home-working during the pandemic made attending medical appointments easier. But despite the progress that has arisen from Covid-19-enforced lockdown, many worry that this will dissipate as soon as we return to the office. 

In its survey of 1,020 women and people with a cervix, the charity found that “many workers report using annual leave, sick leave or even unpaid leave to attend appointments with 10 per cent saying they had used annual leave more than once to attend cervical screening.” As it now stands, 1 in 5 women and people with a cervix said they had used annual leave when booking in their smear test. 

The results come in light of Gynaecological Cancer Awareness month, with Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust looking to not only raise awareness of cervical cancer, but also highlight “the roles employers can play in supporting staff to attend potentially life saving screening.”

Of the 1,020 women and people with a cervix who took part in the research, “62 per cent said that an increase in discussion about women’s health in the workplace would make them feel more comfortable taking time off to look after their health.”

The research also found that the barrier to screening wasn’t just a lack of workplace support, but also due to considerations like time of the appointment and availability. 38 per cent of respondents found that they were unable to get a convenient appointment time during booking, with 1 in 10 being offered appointments they couldn’t make. As the charity explains, “Getting a test around working hours is a significant factor, especially for those who work shifts or who travel to work.”

The charity expressed that such findings are cause for concern, given that “1 in 3 say they feel less able to take time off to attend medical appointments because of the pandemic. Reasons cited for work being a challenge include inflexible bosses, too much work, shift patterns and it being difficult to ask to attend.”

According to Chief Executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, Samantha Dixon, “There are many barriers to cervical screening, but work is a very practical one which we can and should try to tackle. Whilst every workplace is different, we’re calling on employers to find a way to offer their staff Time to Test, especially as we start returning to offices, we must try to avoid putting more barriers in place.

Dixon added, “It’s worrying to see so many having to take annual or sick leave to attend a routine medical appointment, which will lead to some delaying. Employers can help stop this and make cervical screening and cervical health visible and important in the workplace, so more women and people with a cervix feel confident and informed enough to attend.”

The importance can’t be overstated. Data from Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust shows that cervical screening through smear tests prevents around 75 per cent of cancers from starting, while also identifying those who are at higher risk of developing cervical cancer. As the charity urges, “cervical screening is the best protection against cervical cancer and saves thousands of lives every year.”

By Jessica Campbell

Jess is a storyteller committed to sharing the human stories that lie at the heart of sport.

Recommended to you

8 Of The Best Exercise Shorts That Will Power You Through A Summer Of Movement

It’s official: Shorts Season is officially here. While lockdown has seen many of us realise that activewear is less something to be worn for a workout and more a uniform we choose to do any and all daily activities in, when the warmer temperatures roll around, that favourite pair of sweatpants and leggings sometimes don’t cut it. Sure, they might be a staple in any wardrobe, but the Aussie sun doesn’t listen to reason, no matter how comfortable or cute it might be. And when it comes to summer, working out in leggings can feel like being trapped in a sauna, the sweat pooling at your ankles and around the waistband – as well as those other areas we won’t mention here. 

But as we transition from leggings to shorts, it becomes clear pretty quickly that not all shorts are created equal, and certainly not all shorts are fit for a workout. Take it from us at Women’s Health HQ, we’ve been there, tried it and lived to see the consequences. From the shorts that look cute but ride up to show your undies on the run, to those that feel like being strapped into a harness that’s digging into your hip bones. Then there are the fabrics that can cause chafing – a big no – and those that basically shine a spotlight on any area you might be sweating. 

Thankfully, a number of brands are here to cater to your exercise needs with innovative materials, fabrics and sustainable options to see you through a summer of movement. Regardless of your workout preferences or daily activity, we’ve selected the best shorts that will ensure you feel good in your body, shorts that get you excited to embrace the day and attack it with energy, that make you want to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, whether it be walking, running, or socialising in the park. Here are our pick of the best bike shorts below. 

Nagnata

Uptown Biker, $240

What says summer more than a pop of orange and the sleek shape of these Nagnata biker shorts? With its mid-length and horizontal raised rib side detail, these are shorts you can wear both for a workout and out to meet the girls. Made in Australia with a technical knit fabrication, the double-layer jacquard provides gentle sculpting qualities for the body, making it an excellent choice for light to moderate fitness activities like yoga, pilates or barre. 

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.defineSlot(gamData.adUnit, [300, 250], 'gam_midarticle_pos2_2') .defineSizeMapping(gamData.sizeMap.midarticle) .setTargeting('pos', '2') .addService(googletag.pubads()); googletag.display('gam_midarticle_pos2_2'); });

New Balance

Q Speed Fuel Short, $70

We love the colour of these shorts from New Balance which are cut with a sleek, speedy look that also helps to elongate the legs. Featuring NB DRY moisture wicking fabric, these are the shorts you want for high intensity exercise or long runs, keeping you comfortable and dry. There’s also an interior brief for added comfort and a stash pocket to keep your essentials. 

All Access

Ultra High Rise Zip Front Biker Short, $78

Yes, the colour is amazing but the fit is equally sensational on these All Access shorts. For those who love a high-rise fit and wide waistband that holds you in at the waist, look no further. The sleek, shiny look offers mid-compression and the fabric is moisture-wicking, so you can stay comfortable even during your sweatiest workouts. 

Nike

Nike x Naomi Osaka Utility Short, $90

Few things are worse than heading out the door for a run and realising your shorts offer no pockets for those essentials you need. You’re left to hold your iPhone, keys, and anything else you might need in your sweaty palm. Thankfully, Naomi Osaka knows what we need when it comes to exercise shorts and these utility shorts from her collaboration with Nike offer all that and more with a relaxed fit and elastic waistband. 

Tracksmith

Session short Tights, $72

When it comes to bike shorts, you want to feel supported and held in but you also want to be able to breathe. These Tracksmith session short tights are exceptional in offering support while still ensuring comfort remains a priority. Forget about chafing, these shorts won’t ride up and down and the fabric offers more coverage and support against the body. 

Outdoor Voices

Relay 3” Short, $48

Who said summer shorts have to be boring? Outdoor Voices brings fashion-forward style and playfulness to their collections with fun prints and exciting colours. We love the relay 3” shorts for their ultralight, quick-drying fabric that also happens to be made from recycled polyester. But more importantly, we love the print and Poppy Swirl is as good as it gets. There’s even a hidden pocket for your valuables, too. 

Lululemon

Align High-Rise Short 6”, $69

If you’re familiar with the buttery-soft feel of Lululemon’s tights, you’ll want to get your hands on a pair of their shorts, too. Made with the same Nulu fabric that their tights are known for, these shorts feel weightless and super soft. They might be our go-to staple for any workout, but the feel is so second-skin that it’s hard to not wear them for every other activity, too. 

Spiritual Gangster

Seamless Biker Short, $112

These biker shorts from Spiritual Gangster move with you, thanks to a three-tiered compressive waistband that offers a flattering high waist that hugs you in all the right places, without proving constrictive. They offer medium compression but are built for all day comfort, and the colour is a true summer staple because, let’s face it, who doesn’t love tie-dye?