Michelle Keegan has urged women to go for smear tests in an Instagram post about her own test.
The actress admitted she had been putting it off "for quite a long time", ignoring numerous letters.
"I was really apprehensive", she wrote, and would use the excuse of being "too busy", before adding: "Let's face it, it's bloody embarrassing."
But in a video blog after the procedure she said how quick and easy it was, reassuring her fans it was not painful.
"I was in the room for five minutes, on the bed for two, it was really quick," the 31-year-old said.
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It’s Time to talk Cervical Screening examinations... AKA the dreaded SMEAR (horrible word) test! I’m going to be honest with you all, I’ve had numerous letters come through my front door that I’ve pushed aside. I’ve also ignored my mums tiresome pleas telling me to book an appointment with my local GP ...because 1) I used the excuse of being ‘too busy’ with work and life in general 2) let’s face its it’s bloody embarrassing to drop your knickers and open your legs in front of a total stranger 3) I was apprehensive thinking about the pain I was going to endure! However I finally got my finger out, (pardon the pun) and went to my appointment. My doctor was so lovely, I hopped onto the bed and it was over in less than 2 MINUTES!!! It was a tad uncomfortable but no means painful. After doing some research I found that the number of women who should go for a test has dropped to an all time low in 20 years!!! Cervical Cancer is the most common cancer in women under the age of 35, with some having no symptoms whatsoever. 75% of cervical cancers can be prevented by having regular cervical screening, let me break this down for you...SMEAR TESTS SAVES LIVES. My advice to you... STOP making excuses, book, and go for your bloody smear! A smear tests last 5 minutes the impact of cervical cancer lasts a life time! #dontfearthesmear #smeartest #smear #womenshealth #cervicalcancerawareness #selfcare #selflove #getyourselfchecked #justdoit 💞
She added: "It was not painful at all just a little uncomfortable."
Keegan said she had done her research and drew attention to the number of women who are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year.
According to Cancer Research UK, there are about 3,200 new cervical cancer cases and 870 deaths from the disease in the UK every year.
Screening rates rose following the death of reality TV star Jade Goody at the age of 27 in 2009, as her story brought greater awareness.
But the numbers have fallen back since and, in England, the screening rates are at their lowest for two decades, with Public Health England figures for 2017 showing about three million women failing to have a smear test for at least three-and-half-years.
Keegan said: "So ladies, I'm urging you to book in your smear, go and get it done and tell all your family and friends to get it done. It is so important and so easy."
The post by the Our Girl star and former Coronation Street actress has been welcomed by her followers, with one writing: "@michkeegan I keep putting mine off for years but your message has hit home, so thank you and I'm booking an appointment with my doctor tomorrow, well done hun for raising awareness.
Another wrote: "As a practice nurse, well done on promoting cervical screening Michelle. It's vitally important to saving women's lives! Thank you x"