Well this is something I never really thought I’d be posting about. I am a rather private person so usually don’t tend to talk too personally.
However I feel since a good amount of you read my blog nowadays then this is something I should really talk about and hopefully raise awareness for and offer my encouragement and support.
So let’s get down to the nitty gritty. A smear test. The kinda test us ladies don’t particularly get excited for yet it is vital to do so. I appreciate having a smear test is very difficult for some people and if there is anyway I can help reduce your fears or let you talk about how you’re feeling then please contact me!
Nobody really wants to have their legs wide open for a doctor or nurse to inspect your bits and bobs and aside from anything it is quite an invasion of your privacy. Having said that, smear tests can really help in checking the health of your cervix. These tests are done to help prevent cancer and it entails a small sample of cells taken from your cervix to be sent off and all the lil lab people do their thing in checking those cells to see if any have changed or become abnormal. If for whatever reason they come back with the results of ‘abnormal cells’ please do not worry – the word ‘abnormal’ sounds scary and I won’t lie I would panic about that term too! Yet if this is the case you’re in good hands, just make sure to attend any appointments necessary, follow what you have to do on the letter you will receive and also make sure you have someone close you can confide in. Don’t fester in your feelings and be on your own, us gals gotta stick together and as scary as the whole thing may be, as long as you don’t ignore it then you’re doing everything you possibly can and there is a lot of support out there too for any unanswered questions and such!
My aim is to speak as informally as possible when talking about this, if my post can help reassure at least one person and they go to get the test then I feel I have done a fairly good job!
I got the letter to go for my first smear 2 months before my 25th birthday, if anything told me I was turning 25 soon it was that letter. I worry massively about anything and everything, so adding this to my list of worries was no surprise to me. I took my mum with me because I was terrified of the whole thing, obviously though in this current pandemic you can’t have anyone sit in the room with you. The nurse I had was so reassuring, so calming and did her best to ease any anxiety I had.
I’m gonna list a few bullet points of my experience that might help ease your anxieties (please bear in mind that what I am typing is based upon my own experience and how I felt, of course this will probably differ for everyone);
- There is a huge lamp that I presume is there for the nurse to get a good view, I mean let’s face it unless you have your own personal lightbulb up there then I guess a lamp for them to use is essential. The heat from the lamp was a weird feeling, I’m not saying it burnt me (I’m not that dramatic) but I could feel the heat radiating off it and that was…. odd. Totally fine, just a weird sensation. Don’t be alarmed if you too get this, or maybe I was laid that far down the bed that I practically was RIGHT near this lamp – who knows?
- Most medical people will probably tell you and explain what they are doing and when, you know like if you have an injection or a blood test and the nurse goes “I’m just about to do it, you’ll feel a small scratch” kinda thing. They’ll probably do the same for explaining what they are doing down there. I wish I had said for them not to do that to me though. It’s my personal choice but I really don’t wanna know what they are doing and when they are doing it, the moment they tell me when the moment I tense up. Please let them know if you’d rather not know, I will be doing this for my next time.
- Don’t feel bad if they tell you to ‘just relax’ and you can’t. That is totally normal and no matter how hard I try to relax I just can’t so don’t feel like you are doing anything wrong if you can’t relax very well.
- Wear something that you can easily remove and feel comfortable in. For me a dress works well because I don’t feel overly exposed like I would taking my trousers off, I can pull my dress up, knickers down and I still feel covered.
- Ask questions. If you have questions, ask them. That is what they are there for and it is much better to ask whatever is on your mind than come away wishing you had done. They’ve probably even been asked the most simplest of questions but that doesn’t matter – like I say it is what they are there for and simple or not you are entitled to question your thoughts and concerns.
One thing to remember is that it is a very quick process, it is over and done with pretty quickly. During my first smear the nurse told me I’d probably feel a weird feeling but that it was normal to do so. Obviously it is different for everyone but I was waiting to feel this ‘weird feeling’ when she told me it was all done. I didn’t even feel that bit!
For me, the most uncomfortable thing is when they insert the speculum – that is the thing I cannot relax for, I tense for but the moment it is in I’m okay, it is just my anxieties leading up to it that get me! When they start to open up the speculum it is a very odd sensation, it wasn’t painful for me but it did feel odd! Then they use a tiny little brush like thing that sweeps around to gather your cells – I didn’t really feel that bit. Then the nurse will remove the speculum and such and you’re all done! Over and done with just like that. It isn’t something that is a feel good thing, it is a little uncomfortable, it could be a little painful (if you tense like me!) but ultimately it is entirely worth it in the grand scheme of things. Anyone who knows me knows that I fret a lot about stuff like this, I mean when I was 18 I had my very first blood test and I cried before I even went inside haha!
After my first smear I got the letter to say all was fine and I’d have to go back for my next one in three years time. Tomorrow is that date. I can’t deny I am a bit nervous, not so much about the test itself but the results cos I always worry about things like that anyway! (OCD can be a total bitch in that sense!). I’ll be going alone because of the pandemic, which is a pretty big deal for me because usually I have my best chum (aka my mum!) with me to ease my worries!
If I can do it, I have every faith in you too! Ladies, book your smear please – it is very worthwhile. Please get in touch with any questions or concerns you may have. I’m no professional, but I will happily help in anyway I can in easing whatever may be on your mind.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to send any questions/comments etc. OR if you have any advice of your own please send it in and I will make another post with further advice and experiences. The more we talk about it and raise the awareness the more we can help others book the appointment and attend.
#SmearForSmear 2022 will take place during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week from 7-13 January 2022.
More information and support: www.jostrust.org.uk