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Vagina bake-off to save lives by making women less embarrassed about smear tests

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Nobody likes a smear test. But almost everyone likes cake.

With smear test attendances at a 20-year low – and one in four women saying they avoid smear appointments because they worry that their vagina isn't "normal" – Poppy Collier has dreamed up a tasty remedy.

Poppy, a 26-year-old charity worker, has launched a series of workshops where women will get to decorate cupcake with vulva-shaped icing.

Poppy says you don't have to have a vulva to take part (Image: Poppy Collier / SWNS)

As well as ending up with a nice cake at the end of it, Poppy hopes that the women, and maybe some men, who attend will be encouraged to talk more freely about the shape and layout of their bits, and come to realise that there’s no such thing as "norma".’

She says: "The idea behind the event is to get people talking about vulvas using cupcakes and icing."

Around one in four women in the UK skip their cervical screenings because they fear their vagina isn't normal (Image: Poppy Collier / SWNS)

"Each person decorates a vulva cupcake and learns a thing or two as they go along. It's just a great vehicle for getting people talking about the vulva.

"And you don't have to have a vulva to take part."

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"The workshop is very light-hearted, but it exists for an important reason.

"Lots of women are self-conscious about their vulvas, and some even avoid going to visit health care professionals.

Smear tests are at a 20-year low which has led to more and more women being diagnosed with cervical cancer (Image: Poppy Collier / SWNS)

"Around one in four women in the UK skip their cervical screenings because they're afraid their vagina isn't normal, which causes hundreds of deaths a year.

"By opening up the conversation around vulvas and letting people know that each one is unique, the workshops hope to encourage vulva positivity and minimise vulva shame."

Worst case, you get a cake at the end (Image: Poppy Collier / SWNS)

Poppy launched the workshops in April this year and has so far hosted four around the country.

The next one is in London on October 9 before Poppy returns to her home city for another workshop in November.

More than 3,200 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year in the UK, and nearly 900 die annually.

There are approximately 3,000 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed every year (Image: Poppy Collier / SWNS)

All women aged 25 to 49 are invited for a screening test every three years, while those aged 50 to 64 are invited every five years. But one in four women skip the cervical screening, with the proportion increasing to one in three among those aged 25 to 29.

When detected at an early stage, the 5-year survival rate for women with invasive cervical cancer is 92% (Image: Poppy Collier / SWNS)

A study last year found that half of women have delayed or cancelled their smear test – a lot of that was due to embarrassment or fear.

Cervical cancer kills around 859 women a year (Image: Poppy Collier / SWNS)

Public Health England earlier this year shared new research that found eight out of 10 women feel positively about the test and are glad they went.

It is estimated that 83% of cervical cancer cases could be prevented if screening tests were regularly attended.

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