March 24, 2019

Smear Fear | Cervical Screening For The Shit Scared

Now I’m guessing if you’re reading this then you’re probably shitting yourself a bit about your smear test? Am I right? Anyway, the number of us actually showing up for their smear tests is at an all-time low, I was one of the people who didn’t go for their smear test, in fact, I think I was a good few years late for my first one. I hit 25 when I was still pregnant with Lily so obviously I couldn’t go then and then when I got my first letter inviting me I just put it on my mental to-do list but really I was just too fucking shit scared to go and for a long time it really felt impossible for me to even contemplate doing it.

There are a huge list of common anxieties that stop people picking up the phone and booking that appointment, so firstly just know that you’re not alone in feeling like this. There are other people who are just as shit scared as you for quite possibly the same reasons, so don’t feel like you’re alone in this because chances are there are a bunch of other people shitting themselves just like you.

Most people are worried about going more because of the idea of getting their bits out for a stranger and other potentially embarrassing and awkward situations, for some it’s past trauma but for me, it was more the anxiety of waiting to find out the results.

My mind always gravitates to the absolute worst case scenario and I put it off and off and off because I was too anxious to find out if there was something wrong or not which sounds utterly ridiculous when you put it like that but ultimately it was enough to make me rock up 3 years late having shat myself over it for longer than that. I make no sense, I know.

Step by step guide

what happens during a smear test

*This is my personal account of what happened during my first smear test*

  1. If you have brought someone for moral support then the nurse will ask if you want them to stand with you or wait behind the screen. The curtain will then be pulled around you to prevent any potential fanny flashes.
  2. You will be asked to undress from the waist down. I wore the most un smear friendly outfit ever, skinny jeans and boots for you nosey ones but it was fine. I folded the jeans and placed my kickers on top. There is no right or wrong way to do this, don’t worry. PS. you can leave your socks on and the nurse doesn’t care if you’ve shaved or not. Promise.
  3. You will now be asked to hop up onto the bed and you’ll be handed some of that blue hospital tissue to protect your modesty but really, it could hardly cover a flap let alone anything else but the nurse will have seen approximately 5000 other genitals before and gives 0 fucks about how aesthetically pleasing or not yours are. Promise.
  4. You’ll be asked to lie back and put your feet together and relax your knees down. If you have a tilted uterus like me you may be asked to pop your hands under your bum to make locating the cervix easier and less awkward. This was the most painful part for me because I have hypermobility syndrome so my hips sub lux super easily so it was a bit painful when that happened but it popped back in as I brought my legs back up. Might be something to note if you’re super bendy or have any chronic illness or disability that affects your movement but otherwise, you should be ok.
  5. The nurse will lube up a speculum and slowly insert it. This did not hurt at all for me which surprised me, it wasn’t even that cold because it was a plastic one which is standard now I believe so no scary looking metal ones.
  6. Once the nurse has located your cervix (which took like 10 seconds and that was with shuffling about because of my tilted uterus) she will get the little plastic brush and insert it every so slightly into your cervix. This didn’t hurt at all, it wasn’t really uncomfortable either but the slight squeaking noises it made were a bit weird if I’m totally honest.
  7. She will then removed the speculum gently and slowing and that’s it. All done!

The nurse doesn’t care if you’ve shaved or not. Promise.

I went in with odd socks, skinny jeans and legs that hadn’t seen a wax strip in months and you know what? The nurse gave absolutely no fucks at all. Not even the smallest of fucks.

Afterwards I had some spotting for around 24 hours and some light cramping which is totally normal. I shat myself about that thinking it must mean there was something wrong but my results came back with the all clear within 3 weeks (but I was told it can take up to 6 weeks) and negative for HPV.

Tips for the shit scared

Talk to other people

Whether this be your pals or online. There are shit loads of people who shat themselevs before their first smear or those who struggle every time but talking to other people in the same situation as you can really help. Whether this is to help you feel less alone or to give you that drive to get down there and get your cervix out. Don’t shit yourself in scilence.

Don’t book in advance

If you’re shit scared of the panic leading up to the appointment then my best advice is to not pressure yourself to go on a certain date. This was the biggest thing for me; the waiting.

I suck at booking an appointment I’m really worried about and normally end up cancelling because I will have worked myself up so much by the time it comes around. I knew this would happen so I didn’t actually book in advance, I just woke up one day and rang up. They were so good because they actually shuffled something about to fit me in even earlier in the day so I wasn’t sitting and worrying for longer than an hour. I really advise doing that if you struggle with appointments.

Talk to the nurse beforehand about your worries

Talk to the nurse doing it, tell her you’re shit scared and she will be super kind, I promise. The lovely nurse who did mine had a look to see if it looked “normal” for me and even took the time to go over a poster of different cervixes to reassure me mine looked normal. Ask to insert the speculum yourself if that’s the thing worrying you, they’ll be fine with it.

Book an appointment just to talk about your worries first

If you’re super duper shit scared about it then book and appointment with your GP or nurse to talk about everything that is worrying you. Anything that you feel is stopping you from going ahead with it, just let it all out to them. They will then be able to come up with a plan of action you’re comfortable with to help support you through it. They can even show you the speculums, the brushes, etc if you think this could help.

Take somebody with you

Take someone with you, they won’t mind. Ben came with me to mine and they were totally fine for him to come in so take your other half, your friend or your Mum. Take them all if it will help just make sure you go because it really could save your life <3

You got this.

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