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.
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”