In a few months time I turn 31, which means I will be due to have my 3rd smear screening. I am waiting for my letter so I can get my appointment booked in as soon as possible. Now I know I’m not the 1st and certainly wont be the last person to write a blog post or talk about the importance of smear tests. I wanted to share my experience with you to hopefully help you realise that if you are due for your first or even any smear screening, that it’s really okay and you should get booked in as soon as you can. (Every woman has a different experience so this is just my personal experience – stats included are from the NHS website).
What to expect from a smear screening
First things first is don’t be embarrassed, the smear screening is a procedure that nurses carry out daily, they know it’s a delicate subject and area and will make you feel at ease! Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. On the day of your appointment wear something comfortable and I’d recommend that you wear cotton knickers (you will thank me later)! You will be asked to removed your clothes from the waist down, including your pants and lay on the bed with a paper sheet to cover your modesty! Once you are comfortable the nurse will ask you to bring your knees up, place your feet near your bum and relax your knees open (a bit like a frog)! She will use a special smear tool called a speculum covered in lube to open up your vagina. The speculum is is a tube shaped device that opens up like a bird beak, they are usually plastic and are not a scary as they sound! Once open she will have to position the speculum so she can see your cervix. For me this was the part I felt the most, it wasn’t painful I could just feel something was happening down there! Next a plastic brush is used to remove cells from your cervix, I have to say this was the part I worried about the most, but the part I actually didn’t know she had even carried out! That’s all…speculum removed…wipe away the lube and get dressed! Cotton knickers are way more forgiving on a slightly sticky area!
The swab is then sent away for testing and you will be sent a letter in the post with your results in around a week or two. If all is good then you can forget about it for another 3 years. If they have detected abnormal cells you will be asked to go to the hospital for them to investigate further. I thankfully haven’t had to do this so I can’t make comment on the stages after this.
All in all in my experience, the smear test is not something to fear. It’s just another check up that us women have to have along with the dentist!
Does a cervical smear hurt?
I had a chat with the nurse during my last smear who said that for every woman it is a different experience. If your cervix is slightly tilted you will feel the speculum more while the nurse gets it into position. But for something that lasts all about 5 minutes, in general is a pain-free experience and you can carry on with the rest of your day like nothing has happened. Why would you not do it?
Cervical screening stats
1 in 3 women aged 25-29 miss their cervical smear screening due to embarrassment or fear.
More than 3,200 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year in the UK.
1 in 20 woman’s result come back with abnormal cells (most of these cases will not lead to cervical cancer)
In 2018, 4.46 million women were invited for a screening – 71.4% of eligible women attended their appointment.
I really hope this post helps at least one person. The smear test is nothing to be scared or embarrassed about and it could help save your life. If you have any more questions or need some extra reassurance my emails and DM’s are always open. If you have had your letter, 25 or above and not had your first smear, book now!
Lady Like Laura