WARNING - I'm going to be really graphic in this blog post. If you are very young or very not OK with that kind of thing, I'd suggest finding a more delicately worded article about smear tests to read because I would be upset to cause any offence to anybody. Some of this content could be classed as, 'adult'.
I love my pussy.
Last week I booked myself in for a smear test at my local doctors surgery and tweeted about it, as you do. There was such a big reaction from all of you that I thought I would write a blog post on the subject to answer some of the questions I've been having.
I had my first smear test just before I fell pregnant with Darcy and was nerrrrrvous! I'd never had anyone look at my VAGINA (yes, I just shouted VAGINA at you because I'm always such a wuss about it and say lame things like, 'downstairs area' or 'nether regions' but let's face it, it's called a vagina. I wouldn't call my leg my 'walking long part', or my ear my 'hearing hole', so I'm going to force myself to gussy up and say it. Vagina. Vag-in-a) in a medical way before and I felt weird.
Before I went I fretted a LOT about the nurse seeing my vagina. Should I fully shave the whole thing? Should I do a style? Should I just tidy it up? Should I do nothing? Should I wear nice knickers? Should I care? I worried a lot.
If I'm logical about it, I shouldn't have worried. I don't feel uncomfortable to take my knickers off in a sexual capacity so why would I feel nervous to do it for a person who only wants to do a helpful thing for me?
In the end, I went for a general tidy (nice mental image for you there), standard knickers (I'm not trying to seduce her after all) and I had a very thorough shower (if you see what I mean) about 40 minutes before I left for the appointment. I realise that's a lot to share but that's what I worried about the most so chances are you'll be worrying too.
When I arrived (after an age in the waiting room thinking about a stranger poking around in me), I was ushered into her office, she asked a few questions about my general health and periods and such and then she said, 'OK, take you bottom halves off and pop yourself on the bed'. The horror. This was my least favourite part. It feels quite unnatural to undress your bottom half in the middle of the day in a little office.
I did as I was told, she came round the curtain, told me to but my feet together and my knees apart and there it was- she could see my fully right there omg vagina. And it was fine. This woman looks at vaginas all day every day. She could not give a crap if one is more pink than the other or if one woman has hair and another doesn't or if one woman has big lips and another has tiny ones. She just wants to do your smear and see you on your way. Remember that. It's just a body part. It's not that special.
She lubed up (yeah, I said 'lube') this thing that, can I be blunt?, just felt like a large sex toy (please God don't ever let my Dad read this blog post), slid (sorry) it in and then because it's hollow, poked this little sort of mascara brush thing through it, swiped about, pulled it out and voila, you're done.
She left the curtained off area, I put my knickers back on, she asked a couple more questions and I was on my way and she was ready to vagi-swab the next lady. No big deal.
Here is what the NHS says in it's official blurb about it :
"The cervical screening test usually takes around five minutes to carry out. An instrument called a speculum will be gently inserted into your vagina to hold the walls of your vagina open so that your cervix is visible. A small soft brush will be used to take some cells from the surface of your cervix.
The sample of cervical cells will then be sent to a laboratory and examined under a microscope to see whether there are any abnormal cells.
Some women may find the procedure a bit uncomfortable or embarrassing, but for most women it is not painful.
If the test picks up abnormalities in the cells in your cervix, it may be recommended that you have treatment to remove them, or further tests in a few months to see if they return to normal on their own.
You shouldn't have a cervical screening test during your period, so try to arrange an appointment before or after your period is due. The middle of your cycle is the best time to have the test (usually 14 days from the start of your last period)."
None of the procedure hurt. This means a lot because I do not deal well with pain. I will cry at the slightest discomfort and I have a VERY low tolerance almost everything haha. I have a LOW pain threshold. If this didn't hurt me, it REALLY DOES NOT HURT. I didn't find it uncomfortable physically, I just felt a bit weird mentally. Throughout the whole experience I reminded myself that if I were to develop cervical cancer I would have to have a lot more procedures so just do this and be done with it.
The nurse was nice to me, the whole thing was free on the NHS, by doing this I am helping to make sure I will live a full life with my little girl (something my own Mother did not get to do with me) and I am taking care of my health.
It is so important. It could be a matter of life or death. It is also a privilege to have this available because so many women before us did not. Use it.
If you are putting off or ignoring your smear test, please don't. I promise you it isn't horrible. I'd actually rather do that than things like go to the dentist or have a blood test! If you feel nervous, take a friend or relative, book it for first thing in the morning so that it's out of the way and plan a little treat for later that afternoon to have something fun to look forward to. You will be fine I promise!
To look at the NHS official page about smear tests (which are actually called 'cervical screening' tests), click HERE.
Have you had positive experiences with smear tests? Share them in the comments.