Let’s talk about smear tests! It’s just one of those things that us women simply have to go through to make sure all is well with our bits and bobs. So, why are we still SO embarrassed?
Yesterday I read a super worrying article about women being embarrassed about going to get their smear test – but why? What are people so embarrassed about? Apparently women are concerned about the look, size, hair/lack of hair and the smell of their vaginas which a survey has revealed and according to a survey of 2,017 British women from Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, a third of them said that it was down to embarrassment that caused them to delay getting a smear test!!
Girls… A smear test is VITAL and it can prevent 75% of cervical cancers. Cervical Cancer is one of the most common cancer in women under 35 and a total of 220,000 British women are diagnosed with cervical abnormalities each year.
If you haven’t had a smear test it goes like this…
1.) The letter arrives.
You get that dreaded letter in the post and somehow you just know what it’s going to be about… You read it and you reluctantly call up the GP and murmur ‘I got that letter in the post” and you hope they know what you’re talking about but let’s be frank – there are far worse letters you can get in the post.
2.) Nerves at the GP.
You get booked in for your smear test and you go along after showering with the fruitiest smelling shower gel you have making sure you’re as sparkly and clean as you’ve ever been in your life and make your way to the surgery. You sit patiently, scrolling up and down on your phone in the waiting room and you look around at everyone else sat there wondering that they’re in for and whether or not they know what you’re in for…
3.) The chat and the undressing.
You get called in and you have an awkward chirpy chat with the lady who will be doing the deed and she does her very best to make you feel absolutely fine. She’ll tell a joke about her day and probably talk about how the weather is rubbish as you sit down waiting. After what feels like about half an hour of chit chat, she asks you to “pop yourself on the bed” stripped off from the waist down with possibly a little bit of paper covering your dignity. She’ll pop her head around the corner still chatting about her day helping to make you feel less anxious.
4.) Getting prepared.
She’ll then ask you to lie down and depending on who your nurse is, she may ask you to put your hands under your bum to help raise your pelvis. Your legs will bend with your heels drawn into your bum with your knees spread out wide. Not the best position to be in but at the end of the day – that’s the best way they can get the right access to your cervix.
5. You’ll have the test.
For me, luckily, the test was over in about 20 seconds. She used a plastic speculum that looks a little bit like a plastic tampon and when she uses this to open up your cervix, she’ll use a tiny brush to extract cells. It looks a little bit like one of those mascara brushes you use to test mascara in any beauty shop.
It’s perfectly normal to feel tense when it’s first inserted and it can give you a slight twinge but it isn’t painful. If you relax and just think of anything else during those vital 20 seconds, it’ll be over before you know it.
The nurse may explain that sometimes they can’t get all the cells on the first go and that you may need another smear test if the results come back inconclusive. It is not their job to scare you and I’ve never felt scared or anxious when having one. All the nurses have put me at ease and made light of it.
6. You’ll say ta ta.
Simple! Your nurse will ask you get dressed, giving you some privacy (not sure why she bothers now really) but she’ll say to you that you’ll get your results in around 2-6 weeks but I got mine less than a week later (all fine thankfully). She’ll say goodbye and have a great rest of the week whilst she prepares to see her next patient.
7. Hometime & a bit of advice.
And that’s it. You’ll wait for your results and hopefully they will all be fine but IF they are not… You found out hopefully early enough for any further tests. These tests are vital to protect you, if you’re feeling embarrassed just say and your nurse will go above and beyond to make you feel at home. They do this all day, every day – they know what they’re doing and they’ve seen it all before in all kinds of variations. Don’t let any nervousness put you off looking after your body. You only get one body and it’s down to you to protect it.
But whatever you do, please do not ‘not‘ go because you haven’t shaved, waxed or whatever… Nobody really cares about all of that. Please don’t let any lack of confidence about your body stop you from attending what could well be a life-saving test.
Then go home, make a cuppa and…