Health check ups for ladies

This post is one for the SFN ladies. It's a healthcare issue which the only reason I share is because I am concerned that other ladies having moved to France may be like me & have not really given it much thought until now. It's important so that's why I'm blogging about it.

Having had 3 kids in the past 3 years it's been a while since I had a cervical check up referred to in the UK as the Smear. So I decided I'd ask my GP about whether I should have one. She was surprised when I said my last one was 2007 (pre-babies). So she told me to book in with her for a rendez-vous gynaecologique. Now many women in France have a separate Gynaecologist, perhaps you already do, perhaps you'd rather see your GP or not. One thing is clear though, we should make sure we don't simply forget about this important check up just because we have moved countries.

It's easy to think of registering with your GP purely for illness, but prevention is just as important and France appears to be good at testing to prevent illness/disease or pick up on issues quickly in my experience so far.

So I booked the appointment and she did the necessary, I used to be squeamish about this sort of thing but having had 3 kids (2 in France) and experiencing the whole gynecologist led & lets be fair 'hands on' approach taken in France throughout pregnancy I am now not at all squeamish or shy.

Anyway she's my Medecin and I feel comfortable with her, she's the best Dr I've ever had.

As well as the test, she also did the Breast check up to inspect for unusual tissue/lumps/bumps etc. As I'm still Breastfeeding this was comical!

What also amused me, was after the test she gave me an envelope with the little samples inside and told me to stick 2 stamps on & post it. My hubby was also amused at this.

We talked about contraception - I do want more kids but I think 3 is enough for the next couple of years, especially considering we have a house project to do in between. Now apart from knowing the word for Preservative I know little else in french vocab about this area. So when she mentioned the word pronounced sterileh, I was shocked and positively jumping up and down shouting no, no peut-etre je veux une autre enfant. Much amusement to her as she took out her post it note & drew a spiral shaped Y on it. Aha the coin dropped, she wasn't talking about making sure we'd always fit in a 5 seater car.

She explained though that these are complicated to do & I'd need to see a gynecologist and has recommended one in Beziers as our favourite one, the fantastic Dr Clapies has now left Beziers Hospital to work on humanitarian projects. So giving me a letter for this Gyne lady and a prescription for a Y shaped thing I now need to make an appointment for that. I have to say my heart sinks when I think I now have to try to explain what I want doing to some medical secretary over the phone...I need to make sure I get it right.

Anyway the reason for sharing this...was really in case there are any of you ladies out there who are unsure what to do about having these regular check ups, don't leave it to chance. Book your rendez-vous gynelogique and make sure everything is ok.

I await to see what the results will be & how they are presented, presumably I will also be billed by the lab to which I have to post the envelope as they don't have my carte vitale...another complication there then.

It's all about learning to live life in a normal day to day manner - and this is a normal day to day thing, often not spoken about through embarrassment, but I hope some of you find this useful & it might give you the confidence to pick up the phone.

Like Karen I was just treated for CIN3, but here in France. Maybe it has changed since last year, but mine was fully covered by social security. Had a general anaesthetic on a day patient basis. I nearly didn't bother going for my smear test as i had the mirena coil fitted just a few months before. Thank goodness I did!

i think that's helpful thank you for posting...and you are right, not something everyone likes to talk about ... but sooo important!

I am due our third baby in just over 5 weeks, before our move to France, had a smear tho last year before i got pregnant so am ok for another couple.

We have decided tho that 3 is quite enough am my OH has actually said he would go for the snip...that's something we are going to have to investigate a little further when we are out there.

Language will be fun since we can barely speak it, may have to take the mum in law with us to that appointment - nothing like being open with your parents! nothing is secret! haha...

thanks again!


Suzanne and. Lucy

Just happy to pass on information that doesn’t appear always to be given for what is a very common side-effect. Iam just cross that I wasn’t told and battled on for 5.5 years when I could have been less affected. But don’t get me wrong depression aside I loved it:-) and am gutted that a steriletis no longer an option for me (as is ‘father of twinks’) who was tranquil!

@ Suzanne - I totally agree... it would be VERY interesting to see the accounts for revenue versus expenditure on smoking/smoking related illness, and also alcohol/alcohol related illness!

@ Katie - Thanks for the heads up re Mirena and Depression! I have a bi-polar parent, which I guess counts as a family history of depression! Not sure I could cope with going back to a Copper Coil though as I genuinely had days when I didn't dare leave the house! (and a couple of occasions when it all went horribly wrong - NIGHTMARE!!) Will pay attention to "how I feel" as regards anxiety and depression and talk to my medecin traitant.

@ Georgina,

A blood test will show up a raised PAS level as a forewarner of prostate cancer. It is ususally part of an annual male-check-up.

Thanks Katie, certainly something to look out for which I wasn't aware of (especially as my mum's side of the family has a history of depression).


I realise that I am going back in the discussion which has moved on a bit to discuss health checks in general. One thing to be aware of with mirena is that is can cause depression. Before my children i had a copper coil and it was fab. After my second son the other gyne in my maternity prescribed mirena as I wanted a sterilet. However did not tell me to watch out for side effects. I did get PND after my son but even after I had got better and was off the anti-depressants I did continue to feel more fragile and to be more anxious - something I never was before. I didn't know about this side-effect until a friend of mine also wanted something other than the pill and started to become depressed. I had a big discussion with my new gyne (we've moved since it was fitted) when it was time to have it replaced and he wouldn't give me a new one as depresssion with mirena is common. I don't think that it caused my depression but it certainly didn't help my recovery as within a couple of weeks of it coming out my anxiety moments are less intense and less frequent.

I'm now convincing "father of the twinks" to get snipped! Although he has been remarkably reluctant to go to our GP for referral! lol

Tracy - your first para made me smile :)

I recall the day I was absolutely livid when my Dad's girlfriend (knowing my strong anti-smoking view) lit up in an enclosed room in her house (when we were visiting ) with our new 2m old baby. I accept some people will say it was her house, well that's fine but I now avoid going to their house & choose pubs instead as it's the only way I can control my kids not being subjected to a sitting room full of smoke.

Agree with you also on the obesity/drinking too - another one I have a strong view on & which is also close to home but I'll agree to live & let live as long as it doesn't inflict any harm to me or my kids.

My point about the revenue is that whilst smokers pay a lot of tax (& so do drinkers on alcohol and people who eat a lot of junk food/takeaway which has duty/VAT on it) the point is, the NHS ends up paying to sort them out in the end and that's where all this tax ends up going...but more is on balance if you didn't have the demand on the NHS - you wouldn't need the tax. I wish we could actually see the accounts (if it was even possible to do them!) so we could see which way the balance actually leant....otherwise it's all just guesswork.

Hi John, very useful information. Andrew posted that it is the same word in French and again, simply down to your doc and it's very easy from there. My husband had to have a colorectomy recently as his brother has teminal cancer and from discussions it turned out that my OH has had similar problems in the past, I tell you, I kicked in the colorectum till he got down the doctors.

Hi Suzanne, - no offense taken.

Having grown up with smoking parents and now have a smoker husband I am one of the most anti-smoking people I know - no one ever smokes in my house because I can't stand the smell and I think it is a filthy dirty habit!!!! Both kids are well aware that daddy and grandad smoke even though it's really bad for them and mummy hates it, I don't hold my tongue over it at all. However, I respect their right to choose and as my dad has been teetotal for all my life (not an alcoholic) and I thoroughly enjoy a glass (or three) of wine, we have to respect that not everyone makes the most healthy choices. You could pick on binge drinkers, overweight people and all sorts of people for various reasons, live and let live I say (except nagging my husband to give up doesn't count).

I do think my dad and Lucy have a point about the taxes though, all that lost revenue if everyone packs up will have to come from somewhere.

Thanks John, it's all good to know, we're going through the mill a bit, a dear friend of ours had Prostate Cancer, kicked it with Radiotherapy but now has an ongoing issue as a result of the surgery. I'm thinking blokes need a bit more of a kick up the jacksy to get down the Dr's than women...perhaps we should start another blog post - Healthcare checks for Men!


Comment by Georgina Elrington 2 hours ago

Has anyone posted about prostate check ups?

Where to get it done - what to ask for etc...

I was surprised but interested to see this male-related subject in "Health check ups for ladies" - but any mention is good. I was at my doctor for another un-related matter shortly after my 60th birthday, and he asked me if I'd had one done since I left the UK.

I said no, so he said he'd give me 'the kit'. Simple! Some cards with little cut-outs and sticky covers for them, 6 little spatulas for taking samples from the toilet paper after trips to the loo, and an envelope to send them off. A couple of weeks later, I received a letter from the lab with the result: fortunately all clear for me.

Sorry if this is TMI


Agree Lucy, eventually we'll all get something no matter what we do, I'd just prefer it if the people I loved didn't increase their risks/likelihood of getting something sooner, my Dad was only early 50's for his first heart attack, he didn't even have grandchildren then. My mum has stopped for over 10 years but she is constantly getting chest infections needing medical attention and giving me scares.

Sorry if my rather flippant comment has touched raw nerves! My mother stopped smoking about 30 years ago - but still has "weak" lungs. Nowhere near as bad as it used to be but even an hint of a cold results in a chest infection of some sort even now!! However, my grandmother lived to the ripe old age of 89 despite being a heavy smoker! There are so many so well-documented risks that smoking increases ... but it is still a lottery! People get sick who have never smoked and people who smoke all their lives can live to a ripe old age. It just isn't a risk that I want to take!

ps Tracy - I know that was your Dad's suggestion not yours, it's the sort of thing my dad would say too - I've learnt to bite my tongue now with him...oops

ooh raw nerve Tracy - father in law had lung cancer (stopped smoking 15 years ago) - fantastic NHS Royal Brompton removed his lung and 3 aggressive courses of chemo appeared to have killed it off. 3 weeks ago diagnosed with the same cancer but now in the spine, aggressive radiotherapy will be attempted hopefully to kill it off. In this situation we want the NHS to do whatever they can to get him clear of this awful disease...I am truly grateful to the NHS and all the tax/NI he/we pay to keep him alive and well (he's seen his 3 grandkids born since that op so we are all very fortunate) BUT I imagine the healthcare costs now far outweigh the contribution from the smoking of cigarettes over the years. My dad - smoker, heart attack - again NHS care & ongoing care, my Grandad - smoker all his life (now light) 3 heart-attacks & again lots of NHS care...we have to break the cycle. Suggesting that smoking somehow helps pay for all this...well it makes me see Red - and I'm not normally an emotional person but I just hate smoking and wish my family would bl**dy well stop!

My dad swears he is doing everyone a favour by staying a smoker as where else will the revenue come from?

The re-éducation sounds like a real eye opener! Has to be a good thing! In general I don't think that UK is good at being pro-active/preventative about medical things! About the only thing they are pro-active about is stopping smoking - which always seems odd as the State gets so much tax revenue....

Glad that was her opinion Andrew, not yours :-)