I appreciate it’s not exactly the most fun thing you can do with your time, but I honestly still can’t believe there are people out there who won’t get one done because they don’t like the idea of it. Which sounds ridiculous, because the alternative could be cervical cancer. I’m not going to sugarcoat this; depending how quickly they catch it, having cervical cancer could involve having surgery to remove some or ALL of your womb, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or palliative care (where all they can do is look after you until you die).
It’s such an important topic so I’m going to tell you about my experience of having a smear test for the first time, mostly because I was having a chat a while ago with a group of girls and quite a lot of them still hadn’t had one, despite being over 25!! Once you turn 25, you should get a letter in the post asking you to book in with your GP surgery.
For starters, it’s always that question of “to shave or not to shave”. Lemme tell you, the nurses DO NOT care either way. I mean, as long as your bush isn’t so long and matted that it creates a seal-tight door in front of your vag, I think you’re pretty much good to go! Personally, I had a bit of a trim and went on my merry way.
The next thing is, go for a wee before you go to the appointment and have a quick wash downstairs. And while you’re at it, have a wee when you get there and freshen up afterwards by using baby wipes! I know they’ve seen it all before, but you don’t wanna be spread-eagled wondering if you’ve got bits of tissue stuck to yourself!!
The nurses are usually very lovely and can generally tell by looking at your details that it’s your first one, if not, just tell them. They’ll probably talk you through everything that’s going to happen. My nurse was so lovely and really put me at ease.
Once you’ve talked through the process, she’ll leave you to take your lower clothing off. I generally wear a skirt so I can keep it on and not feel so exposed!! You then lie on the bed and cover yourself with a towel and wait for her to come back in.
Once she’s back in the room, she’ll generally tell you what’s going to happen next; if she doesn’t, just be brave and ask, unless you’re one of those women who really don’t want to know!
The nurse will ask you to put your feet together and flop your knees out (so your legs are making a diamond shape). She’ll then remove the speculum out of the packaging and use lube to allow it to go in easily. The speculum is made of plastic and keeps your vag nice and open while she’s taking the swab. The plastic and lube are cold and it’ll probably make you wanna clamp up! If you can, try and take deep, calm breaths to help keep your body nice and relaxed.
Once she’s cranked the speculum open, she’ll take the swab out of the packaging and look right to the back of your vag for your cervix. Mine seemed to be hiding right at the back (which happens a lot to women) so she had to toddle off and find a longer swab.
Anyhoo, when she came back, she managed to take the swab. It didn’t really hurt, but it did feel a bit weird and I had that “need to pee” feeling for a brief second 😐 Once she’d finished poking around, she carefully took the speculum out and left me to get dressed in private. Once I was decent, she had a quick chat with me about the procedure and sent me on my merry way. I immediately popped to the loo as I still felt a little “lubey” down there and it was nice to have a wee and a freshen up before going to work … No one needs to feel “lubey” all day 😀
The results generally take 14 days to come back and you’ll receive the results in the post. Your GP will also get a copy.
My first results came back abnormal and said that there were borderline or low-grade changes so instead of waiting another three years to have my next one, I had to have one the next year. The results just meant that although there were some abnormal cells found, they were so close to being normal, no further intervention was necessary 🙂
When I went for my smear test a year later, everything was absolutely fine and I’m now back to having them every 3 years.
Have you had a smear test yet? If not, are you now persuaded to go? Let me know in the comments below 🙂 x
While I understand you are sharing your experience, the sensationalised intro isn’t necessary. “The alternative could be cancer” – there are many women suffering cervical cancer who DID attend their smears and many that don’t that are just fine.
Smear tests have pros and cons, women shouldn’t be sold that a smear test is a no-brainer. It’s a personal choice.
That’s an incredibly valid point and I could think on how best to change the intro. I guess because I work with cancer all day, I’m more likely to urge anyone who can get tested to do so because I see first hand the devastation it can cause x
I’ve neber had one but I’m 18 right now, I’m scared that it’ll hurt!
They do feel uncomfortable but shouldn’t hurt, you can always tell the nurse if it does 🙂
I went for my first one in March this year & I still can’t believe how easy it was, I try and encourage everyone I know to go & it’s really not something to work yourself up about, it’s over in seconds & you’re absolutely right – the nurses are lovely & very reassuring 🙂 x x
Ellis // http://www.elliswoolley.co.uk
Exactly, I think a lot of women build it up in their heads, but like you say, it’s usually over in seconds and you can go about your day afterwards!! 🙂 xx
I am so pleased you wrote this blog ! I’ve just got back home after a failed smear test because it was just so painful I couldn’t let the nurse complete it (no fault of hers she was lovely and very understanding). I’ve got a repeat appt booked but was working myself inertia fine old state about things – was it painful because there is something wrong ? and oh god what will it be like when I go back. Seeing the blog and comments is outing my mind at rest, it’s not abnormal and I hope that’s going to help me relax next time !
I’ve noted the comments about small especially !
Thank you all of you whove shared information x
I’m so sorry your smear test didn’t go to plan but I’m so proud that you’ve already rebooked! I’m so proud of you xx
I’m so glad more female bloggers are sharing their own experience of a smear test, because it’s such an important thing for all women over 25 to have their smears done regularly! I had mine done, after putting it off for a year, and had abnormal results so I had to go for further tests and a biopsy. Which was pretty scary. Thankfully, my results were good from the biopsy and I won’t have to have another smear for 3 years. Thanks for sharing your experience!
I’m so glad your results were okay!! It’s scary when things come back as abnormal, but catching anything as early as possible is essential 🙂 x
A post like this is really great because we should all be getting tested regularly, it’s very important!
Thank you 🙂 xx
I have had a few and had some awful experiences with them! (Written about them on my blog too!) They unfortunately hurt me no matter how relaxed I am because I’m ‘small’ in there!
I’m sorry to hear that, I’ll have to check out your post!! It’s fab that you still go anyway though xx
Aww thank you lovely xx
If you’ve got a cervix that likes to hide, then a tip I was told is to clench your fists and place them under your bum while they do the swab. It helps push everything forward.
Another tip I use, cos I get very tense, is to wriggle your toes (just your toes and not start shaking your feet and legs though) and that helps relax you as it’s a gentle distraction for your body and mind.
Ooooh such fab tips, thank you!! I’ll have to remember those xx
Great post, I was debating sharing my experience as I had to have treatment after my results came back, but its such an important thing for women to do – i was an idiot and kept putting it off because i was embarrassed and I really, really regret that.
You definitely should!! It’s important to hear the good and not so good sides!! xx
I think in New Zealand you get sent a letter at 20 or 21, interesting to see the different ages for different countries. How brave of you to write a post like this and I’m glad you had a positive experience and felt able to share it 🙂
There’s a lot of debate about lowering the age here, I didn’t know NZ was 20/21!!
It used to be that age in the UK. Not sure when it changed but I first went for one (which was abnormal and required treatment) when I was in my early 20s. I would say definitely go for one. Having that kind of procedure is just something we all need to get used to. I had an Australian friend who died of cervical cancer when she was in her 20s. I don’t know the full details of her diagnosis but would assume her survival chances would have been better if it was caught early.
Wow, had no idea, I thought it was always 25!! I’m sorry to hear about your friend x
I think it was 20 in the 1990s. Not sure when it was raised to 25.
Ah, fair, I turned 20 in the 2000s!
I’ve never had one done and I’m 24! I’m scared of the procedure to be honest but both my sister’s and mom have gotten there’s checked so I’m tempted to go because I want to make sure everything is healthy. My younger sister (she’s 17) just got her’s check last week and was explaining to me what they did to her and it sounds horrible but you make it sound not as bad. I’m still terrified though because I’m very shy when it comes to things like this. I think I should schedule an appointment soon! ♥
They usually start at 25 in the UK, I’m not sure about elsewhere.
I remember when I was due to have my BCG injection (to protect against tuberculosis) my brother had already had his and said it was the most awful thing in the world. I was so scared and really hyped it up … When I actually had it done, it was nothing at all lol!! xx