I remember when I was 16, and a friend who was slightly older than me told me about women getting smear tests. The HORROR stories she told me made my insides flip & my vagina clench in fear, not going to lie. Since I was 16, I put that fear and anxiety to the back of my mind, as apart of me was like, it’s almost ten years until I turn 25, that’s so long away! However, here we are, and that letter of doom arrived in my letterbox, and I just thought, oh shit, the time has come to face my smear fear.
Once the letter came through, it was reasonably easy to make my appointment even though I avoided it for a few days. I knew that It was something I had to do for myself. As soon as that appointment was made, those horrific stories started to creep their way back into my consciousness. Those stories about ‘the metal clamp” and the stories about “a swab scraping your uterus.” – Which after a few conversations with friends, they told me that they were indeed, very dramatic tails of the procedure. Go figure.
I took to Instagram (as I do a lot of the time, not going to lie) and so many of you expressed that you too, had the smear fear and that you had been putting off booking your appointments. However, some of you shared some beneficial advice that helped me prepare for the procedure and what to expect from it, so before I fully delve into my experience, I thought I’d share some tips.
Don’t put off booking your appointment.
By putting off your appointment and ignoring the letter, you’re essentially just making the anxiety and the fear prolonged. It’s good to get yourself in the mind frame of ‘once it’s done, it’s done’ and ‘the sooner it’s over with, the sooner you can forget about it.’ I guess it sounds a bit cliche, but it’s true.
Wear a midi skirt or a flowy midi dress
This advice was honestly the best. With the covid-19 restrictions, they can’t use any fabrics/ blankets or anything of the sorts to cover you up and make you feel a bit more comfortable, so if you’re wearing trousers, you’d be full vagina out there If I’m keeping it frank. So wearing a skirt made me feel comfortable for sure.
Don’t forget to breathe.
When we feel uncomfortable, we have a habit of holding our breath or breathing shallow. However, taking deep breaths can help loosen you up and allow you to feel just a tad more relaxed and calm.
My Smear Test Experience
On the day of the appointment, I felt nauseous from the moment I woke up. I did force myself to eat and have a cup of tea with sugar, just as I didn’t want to make myself feel any worse.
With the COVID restrictions, when arriving at the doctor’s, it worked in a way that you’d let them know you’d arrived at the door, and then you had to wait outside. I did go with my Mum, simply because she knew how anxious I was, and ironically, she had a smear test on the same day as I did. I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to have my Mum go in with me for a bit of extra support and so she could hold my hand and coach me through it a little, however, this wasn’t allowed with the restrictions in place.
When I went into the room, I let the nurse know that I was feeling. nervous and that I suffered from anxiety so that she had a bit of a heads up that I may be feeling overwhelmed (which of course, I was!) The nurse asked me a few questions about sexual health & periods, which is what I expected in all honesty.
After that, the nurse showed me the equipment she’d be using to perform the smear test; she showed me the different sizes of the speculum so that I could see that it was pretty small in and was not metal and huge like what I’d been told when I was a kid. There are different sizes depending on whether you’re sexually active, whether you’ve had a baby etc. So there’s something that will be right for you.
Next, the nurse told me to take off my underwear and hop onto the surgical bed. This moment was when the fear kicked in. I honestly felt so awkward, but the nurse respectfully left the room and allowed me a bit of privacy, although it still felt odd. Once that awkward moment was over, it was onto the epitome of awkwardness, the actual smear.
At this point, you’re asked to lie down with your feet together and your legs apart, as this is the best way that the nurse can see your cervix. It all felt so alien, stiff and awkward. The nurse had to tell me to relax and stop tensing, as surprise, surprise, when I feel uncomfortable, my body tenses up, which isn’t precisely ideal when you’re getting a smear test. When the smear test was being performed, I honestly really didn’t feel anything. I was honestly focusing on trying not to panic and attempting not to be so tense, that I didn’t release what was happening down there. Just like that, it was over with, and the fear and anxiety was gone. After the test, the nurse told me it could take around five weeks for the results to come back, but I think I got mine back in around two weeks, so super quick. It’s also common to have cramps as though you’re on your period, as well as having a small spot bleed after the test. So if that doesn’t happen to you, there’s absolutely nothing to worry about with these side effects.
So, there you have it, my first smear test experience. To conclude, I don’t think the worry and anxiety I had around it all was even needed. I know so many people say ‘it’s over so quickly’ but my goodness, it is over so quickly, you’d hardly even notice hopefully, if you’re like me and getting a lot more worked up than I would about an appointment, you can find some comfort in this blog. If you do have any additional advice, feel free to leave it as a comment, so anyone with the burden of the Smear Fear, we can help one another out! After all, sharing is caring.
Stay Groovy x