It’s Cervical Cancer Prevention Week so I thought I would share my smear test experience with you.
I knew it was coming, yet the day my smear test letter dropped on the doormat I hoped that they had got the wrong address. I have a lot of anxiety about my body and the thought of being naked in front of someone else is horrifying to me. Though it is something I have been working on, and an area of myself that I am growing my confidence in, I still have never manage to muster up the courage to even have a bikini wax or a massage for fear of embarrassment
So why am I telling you this? Because, despite the fact taking my pants down in front of a stranger and getting a smear was mortifying to me I knew that getting it done was more important.
Why is a smear test so important?
The purpose of the test is to prevent cancer by finding and then treating any abnormal cell in the cervix.
What happens at a smear test?
On the day of my appointment, I felt sick with nerves but still made it along to my local surgery in time for my appointment. As I entered the nurses’ office I could feel my nausea increasing and I think my fear must have been clear to see as she asked if this was my first time. Nodding, she sat me down at her desk and explained what was going to happen and why getting a cervical smear was important. I asked if it would be ok to see the equipment she would be using. She happily obliged first showing me the metal speculum that would be used to separate my vaginal walls and then the small plastic brush that would be used to remove some of the cells from my cervix for testing. I like to know all the details, so felt reassured by seeing what was about to go inside me.
Ready to get going, and feeling calmer, I quickly got myself undressed from the waist down and lay on the bed covering my crotch with the paper blanket provided. Soon the nurse was at the other end of the bed, we chatted away casually whilst she used lubrication in preparation for the speculum which was to be entered into my vagina, followed by the brush.
I was particularly tense, which can cause discomfort, so we spoke a little more and I took some deep breaths to relax before anything was inserted. The nurse talked me through each step as she did it and told me to let her know if I wanted to stop at any time. She then let me get changed privately and told me to call back in two weeks for the results. The entire process took 5 minutes and though it was not pleasant, it was not painful.
I am not going to lie, getting a smear test was not a treat but I did not leave feeling humiliated like I thought I would; instead I felt proud of myself for going through with it. My results came back clear but I have many friends who didn’t get the same news. I know this sounds utterly terrifying but those who do have abnormalities get treated and screened more frequently to prevent the chances of the cells manifesting into cancer, so really it is a good thing in the long term.
I am writing this for anyone who feels scared in the same way as I did; to let you know you are not alone in your fear but, despite how anxious you are about getting a smear test, please go and do it to reduce your risk of getting cervical cancer!