I’ve recently beens suffering systems which include a brown vaginal discharge, and a dull ache in my back. My immune system also seems to have dropped, and I’ve had numerous colds since the beginning of the year. I visted my GP, but I was not offered a cervical screening due to it being roughly a year until my next one is due. Should I be worried about this?

Hello! Whether you should be worried or not, it sounds like you already are. It's difficult for anyone reading this to know what to make of your symptoms but it's sensible to have them checked out so well done for going to the GP.

I have spent the past year getting increasingly worried and struggling to get my Dr to take my concerns seriously. I ended up booking a private gynae appointment. The consultant took a smear (which I wasn't necessarily expecting her to do) which came back with mild abnormalities, and I've recently had my colposcopy appointment, just waiting for biopsy results.

The appointment was £140. The consultant was very kind and, realising that I can't actually afford private healthcare and that I'd been driven to her office out of sheer desperation, had my smear processed as an NHS patient so I only had to pay for the consultation. I have never used private healthcare before and thought it would be far more expensive than this. If I'd realised a year ago that it would only be £140 I could have saved myself months and months of stress.

I really recommend doing this if it will put your mind at rest. If they find any abnormalities you'll get a head start on any monitoring or treatment, and if it comes back clear it's one less thing to worry about. Technically you should be able to get a smear done even if it's not due, if you have symptoms which justify it being done on clinical grounds. But my experience over the past year suggests that in practice they're very reluctant to do this, which I why I recommend going straight for the private appointment. The other thing I would recommend is to keep a symptoms diary for your discharge, back ache and anything else you notice. Did your GP suggest anything at all to investigate the cause of your symptoms? Did they examine you or take swabs? If you do see a private consultant they'll also write to your GP with recommendations for other tests or investigations which can be helpful too.

Good luck with it all and let us know how you get on!