A survey has revealed a third of young women are “too embarrassed” to get a smear test due to the smell and shape of their bodies.

Figures released by the Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust charity show that 74 per cent of women have not attended a test locally across the Watford, St Albans and Borehamwood parts of Hertfordshire.

A third of the 2,017 women surveyed – who are all between 25 to 35 years old – admitted embarrassment caused them to delay attending a potentially life-saving screening.

According to the report, 35 per cent were concerned about their body shape, and 39 per cent feared they did not smell “normally”.

Up to 16 per cent would rather miss their smear test than a gym class and 14 per cent would rather attend a waxing appointment.

Robert Music, chief executive at Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, warned that body image issues, including perception of what is ‘normal’, could be putting lives in danger.

He said: “Smear tests prevent 75 per cent of cervical cancers so it is a big worry that so many young women, those who are most at risk of the disease, are unaware of the importance of attending.

“It is of further concern that body worries are contributing to non-attendance. Please don’t let unhappiness or uncertainty about your body stop you from attending what could be a life-saving test.

“Nurses are professionals who carry out millions of tests every year, they can play a big part in ensuring women are comfortable.”

The survey was released ahead of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, running from January 22-28.

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust has set up a #SmearForSmear campaign to raise awareness of the importance of attending these screenings.

For more information visit www.jostrust.org.uk or call the national helpline on 0808 802 8000.