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Don’t Fear The SMEAR #ihadmine

I feared mine …

Early last week, I went into my Doctor’s Surgery scared out my wits as I was about to have the ‘dreaded‘ SMEAR Test. When mentioned in passing to family and friends that I was going to have this done, they all gave a ‘look’ and said something a long the lines of ‘I bet you can’t wait‘, ‘I really hated having mine done‘, which of course added the worry of what exactly it was or how it was going to go.

My one best rule I had made to myself was to not ask for details or look up online what the Test would entail. The less I knew about the whole thing the better … maybe so that I didn’t have to accept that it was going to happen?

I am going to be a bit graphic here, but I was most worried about how it would feel when they put the speculum in. Even now I get shivers when I think about how I imagined it.

*Word of warning, I may be graphic about thoughts and what actually happens further down*

What Is A SMEAR Test?

A SMEAR test essentially checks the health of your cervix, by taking a small sample of cells for testing. However, it’s good to be mindful that this test is not for cancer, only to help prevent cancer.

After the cells are taken, they are sent away to be checked for certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause changes to the cells of the cervix. If no HPV are found, nothing more is done; on the other hand, if some HPV are found, you would be invited to have another sample done.

HPV can be caught through any skin-to-skin contact of the genial area, including;

  • penetrative sex
  • vaginal, oral or anal sex
  • any contact with the genital area
  • sharing sex toys

So ladies, be smart!

You are also invited to a Screening from;

AgeWhen invited
Under 25Up to 6 month before 25
25 to 49Every 3 years
50 to 64Every 5 years
65 or overOnly if 1 of the last 3 tests was abnormal

*If you are unsure, the cervix is the opening of the womb from the vagina.*

The Appointment

It was nerve-wrecking enough with COVID, that I wasn’t able to have someone I knew there to hold my hand as I stepped through the Surgery doors, signed in and sat waiting for that bleeping message board above the TV to tell me which room to go to.

Looking back, I realised that I was nervous mostly from the fact that I didn’t know what to expect with the whole thing. There were numerous things going through my mind ….

… does it matter if it looks like a wild bush down there?!

…. what if they put the speculum in dry?!

….. what if it hurts when they get the cells?!

….. I really should have shaved …. my legs look like they are infested with spiders – ergh

…… what if they find something?!

……. would I look like a baby if I cried throughout?!

*If you are wondering, this was indeed my first one*

I was called into the Nurse’s Room. Giving credit to the Nurse, in full COVID P.P.E, she did her best to reassure and talk me through the Test as I was shaking like a leaf in that chair.

To help ease my worries, the Nurse showed me the little paint brush looking tool that would be used to gently scrape the cervix and the pot that it would be put into, which had liquid in to keep the cells fresh or alive until tested.

After this, I was shown the dreaded speculum which is the smooth tool that is used to open the vagina so that they can see where to get the cells. It was also made clear that if I found that one too painful, a smaller one could be used – Ladies, don’t be afraid to ask for this!

The Nurse pulled the curtain along so that I could undress from the waist down (I had guessed that I would be needing to remove clothes so carefully selected clothing that would be easy to get in and out of. I also had a longish top that I felt comfortable in covering up quite a bit of my lady area). As I was doing this, the Nurse explained that she would run the speculum under the hot tap so that it warmed up and would also lube it.

I laid down on the bed, and was asked to put my feet level to my butt cheeks. Pretty simple! The light was fixed between my legs as my previous thoughts ran through my mind again …

Then the moment came.

I’m not going to lie, I couldn’t really feel the speculum going in, I felt more the gooeyness of the lube at the opening. When it came to the scraping of cells, I found it tickled which made me chuckle as I was laying there. Next thing you know, it was over!

I couldn’t believe it! How could something that important be over so quickly and in no pain!

When I got to my car and looked at my phone, I had barely been in there for 10 minutes. I wanted to share my experience with this, as there may be someone else out there, that could be just as scared as me about this whole thing.
Ladies, you are not alone.
It is not as scary as it seems!

*Information was taken from the NHS Website to write this post.*

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