Wednesday, March 04, 2015

What to expect at your first Cervical Smear Test

This is a pretty strange thing for me to write about and – don’t worry – I won’t go into any graphic detail. The reason why I wanted to write about Smear Tests is because for the last year or so I knew my first one was looming. Obviously it’s good to know you are cancer-free in your cervix, but I also was dreading the day my invitation for the test would hit my doormat.

No one really talks about what happens at a Smear Test, and those who have told me little snippets of their experiences have taken great pleasure in telling me how awful it was. So, about a week ago, I had my first Smear Test and I thought I’d just share MY experience in the hope that it might settle the minds of those still waiting for theirs.
Before the appointment, I worried whether I should trim / shave “down there” for the woman doing the swab or whether that would be weird. I contemplated this for a good two weeks. Would she think I was trying too hard? Would she think I was strange? I discussed my thoughts to my boyfriend who just rolled his eyes and thought I was over-thinking things. The day before, I decided I would just leave the hair “down there” is whatever state it was at the time. The nurse will have seen it all before, I told myself. There’s no point worrying about it.

My appointment was at 11:20, but it just so happened that I had a blood test at 10:40 at the surgery too. I was done by 10:45 and had 35 minutes to wait. That time went by SO slowly. Jiggling my legs and fiddling with my hands, I stared at the clock watching every minute go past. I was so nervous. I mean no one has ever inspected “down there” before. Especially a stranger!

The nurse called me in and was all smiles. She knew from my file that this was my first Smear, but I had already planned to tell her just in case so she knew that I didn't know what to expect. There was no relaxed chit-chat, this nurse was a busy lady and had other people to see. Drawing the curtain around the reclined chair she asked me to “pop my bottoms off”, to lie down on the chair and if I wanted, I could use a paper sheet for “extra modesty”.

Once I told her that I was ready, she opened the curtain and turned on this bright spot light by my feet. Whilst putting on her gloves she asked me to pull my feet right up to my bottom and then drop both of my knees to either side. The nurse explained she would be using a small clamp device to gain access to my cervix and this would probably be the most uncomfortable part. It was. It wasn't painful, but most definitely uncomfortable. The nurse then explained that she was going to take a swab from my cervix and that I may or may not feel a scratching sensation. I actually didn't feel her take the swab and within less than 60 seconds, start to finish, my smear test was over.

As I got dressed the nurse warned me that I may experience spotting or a little bit of blood in my knickers later that day. Fortunately this didn't happen, but apparently it’s very normal so don’t worry if this does happen to you. My results would be sent to me in the post within six weeks, and no further action would need to be taken unless there was any issue with the Smear results.

For about 3-4 hours after the smear test, I did feel uncomfortable down below. It didn't feel normal, but it also didn't hurt. I felt a little violated and embarrassed that someone had seen my hoo-haa, but honestly I don’t think she even looked. I'm glad my Smear Test is over and done with, and I'm glad I finally had my first one. No more wondering what will happen and what it will be like.

Here are some of my personal tips for a quick and embarrassment-free Smear Test:

  • Wash your intimate area before you go to your appointment!!
  • Wear something that’s easy to put on and off, or like me, wear a dress or skirt so you don’t have to take off much at all.
  • If it’s your first time, tell the nurse this and she’ll explain everything she’s doing and will be sympathetic.
  • Remember, she’s seen hoo-haa’s of all shapes and sizes, colours and ages. Don’t be embarrassed – seriously, she doesn't care.
  • And finally – RELAX! It sounds silly and it might be hard at the time, but the more you relax, the less the test will hurt.

I hope this has helped at least one person with an impending first Smear Test! Let me know if there’s anything you think I should add to the list of tips.

Love & Kisses,

Vicki xoxo

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