Saturday, 28 January 2017

Health: Smear Tests, sharing my experience.

There's been a lot of chatter around the old interweb regarding smear tests of late and I kind of want to share my experience with you and have a chat about them. 

TW: This post refers to sexual assault. 

Being the ancient dinosaur that I am, I was lucky enough to have been able to start having smear tests at the age of 18. My experience of smear tests has not been nice, but I wanted try and reassure you that no matter how bad or scary or painful it is, you really are doing yourself a disservice if you don't go and get yours. 


Me headed to the doctors...
Credit: Linocutboy


At the tender age of 18 I stepped into a dark dingy nurses office, completely unsure of what to expect. Maybe I should have picked up one of those leaflets up and clued myself up first, and yes the internet was very much in its infancy so I couldn't really google it (I could have maybe asked Jeeves, yes I am truly that old). 

The brusk nurse told me to remove my trousers. There was no screen, just a bare office with a bed thing in the corner (what are they called?), anyway I digress, I stood there in my knickers, she kind of looked at me oddly. I had to ask if needed to remove my knickers, I genuinely didn't know what to expect. I think I thought this may be a pull them to one side situ? Who knows what was going through my mind? But no, it was a full naked bottom half situ. I walked over to the bed and hopped up. Seriously this was the dark ages, it wouldn't happen now, you'd remove all that behind the privacy of a curtain and pop a bit of paper towel on you for modesty. 

She put the speculum inside me, which again, back in the dark ages was cold and metal. My very nervous vagina shut the sucker right back up again. The nurse told me to relax, after a few attempts and she managed to get up there. A few painful scrapes later and we were done. I went over to the chair, put my clothes back on and sat down, she gave me a talk about checking my breasts and sent me on my way. 

I felt so violated. You see, about 4 years earlier I had been subjected to a sexual assault by a boy I went to school with and this, in a strange way, felt the same. I had found myself in a situation I didn't want to be in, I felt vulnerable and stupid. The exact way I had felt those years before. And as much as I tried to tell myself it was for my own good and that it was a medical procedure, still I sobbed and sobbed. 

When it came to my next one, around 5 years later, I remember sitting in the car with my dad, shaking. I was so scared, I didn't want to go in. But somehow he managed to calm me down and talk me round. In I went, this time, in a different, brighter, more modern surgery. I was talked through the process by a very kindly nurse. I went behind a curtain (hoorah) and removed my clothes, got up onto the bed, and popped the paper towel on for my modestly. The nurse inserted a plastic speculum, and yes, again my nervous vagina clamped it shut, but after another try we got there, and yes, it still hurt like hell, but the nurse's friendly chatter seemed to soothe the whole process a bit and I was in and out before I knew it. 

Every time I've been since has become easier. 

Is it pleasant? No. 

Is it painful? For me, yes. 

Is it mortally embarrassing? Yep. 

But, is it worth it? Yes, absolutely, a million times yes. 

This is only my personal experience, but one I wanted to share with you. Despite the most horrific start to my smear journey and the painful memories it brought up, I still wouldn't change it. I would take that ten minutes of embarrassment and pain over cancer any day. I'd have one every week if it meant not having cancer.

Love your Lady Garden - Get a Smear.


I beg of you. Take whatever pain, bad experiences, fears and put them to one side, once every three years and do this one thing for your health. Please. 





1 comment:

  1. I have an ongoing battle with a few of my friends who refuse to get their smear test done. For me, the first time I had it done was absolutely fine. The nurse complimented my cervix and I felt an odd sense of pride, it certainly helped the experience. The second one was a lot different, I mean you can only lie there for so long with your fists under your bum as you try and tilt things in the right direction, while attempted to relax with a strange woman getting up close and personal with your special place. BUT I wouldn't miss it for the world. I'll take 5 minutes of discomfort and a strange lady being in my special place rather than the alternative any day. So glad you wrote about this. x

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