Last week I received a letter from my doctor about booking a smear test. Now known as Cervical Screening, is done every 3 years and I had my first one when I just turned 25, so I was due another examination. Just like the first time I received my letter, I didn’t bat an eyelid and called my doctors surgery straight away to book an appointment.
It was extremely important for me this second time round to make sure I got it done, as I feel my body has changed a lot within these 3 years, especially being that I am a mum now. Which is even more reason for me to get this done. I don’t take my health lightly and will always be a willing participate in getting checks done for my own sanity.
The whole process in total took me about 10-15 mins, with the actual procedure taking about 2 -3 minutes. It was done by a nurse and she gave me the option to be chaperoned if I was nervous and would like someone to be with me. She asked me all the relevant questions like ‘are you still at your current house address’, ‘when was your last period’ ‘are you on any birth control pills, and the name of it’ etc. She then proceeded to tell me what she was going to do, and asked if I had any questions. As it was my second time, I had no queries. Once that was done, I was asked to remove all my lower half garments and prop myself up on the examination bed. I was then told to bend my legs up and spread my legs apart. For whatever reason at that point I tensed up a little bit. The nurse was so lovely and reassured me it was OK and that it would be all over in a matter of minutes. She placed a paper sheet over my lower half and then she inserted an instrument called a speculum into my vagina. I wont lie it was cold and did hurt initially, but I’m pretty sure she did use lubricant on it. the reason for the speculum is to help it opened the insides of your vagina, giving it better access for the nurse to see your cervix. she then used like a specially designed long brush to collect samples of my cells from my cervix. Now that bit was extremely uncomfortable and it didn’t feel nice, it made me bring my legs forward into each other, and she had to then reassure me again and get me to relax my legs. After about another 20 seconds or so she was done. A little bit of a TMI, I did bleed a little, which she explained is perfectly fine and most people do. I was passed some tissue to wipe yourself off and I put my jeans and shoes back on. Before I left she let me know that I would receive my results letter within one week and if it said negative,then there was no further action needed and I should come back again after 3 years. She also gave me information about taking care of my breasts, and making sure to regularly check them and look out for any changes as women wont get a mammogram test until we are about 50 years old.
In all I am happy I have got this done and will continuously do so. I am firm believer in better safe than sorry when it comes to my health. I don’t like to take chances or shrug it off just because I am mentally and physically feeling fine.
It has come as a bit of a shock to me that, not everyone is quick to get their test done like me, and that although high, only 80% of women get it done but it is much lower in younger women (25-30) with around it being 70% in some areas. This is appalling and should be at 100%. I would plead for all girls to make sure you get this done. What is 10-20 minutes of your time to just know that your lady bits are all good! You don’t have to be sexually active to get this done. Just being a women is all it takes.
I feel there is just not enough awareness when it comes to women’s health. There only seems to be engagement when a celebrity is suffering or dying from such, which shouldn’t be the case. Let us all be more aware.
Below I have listed some facts and tips to get you more in the know.
- Cervical screening is not a test for cancer, It is actually a method of preventing cancer by treating and detecting early abnormalities found in the cervix. If left untreated it can lead to cancer.
- You don’t have to have your screening just at your Gp’s, you can also have it at a woman clinic, family planning clinic or at the genito-uniary medicine (GUM) department of your local hospital.
- Everyday in the UK eight women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and 3 will lose their lives.
- Scientist for Cancer Research UK say that up to 4,500 lives will be saved each year due to cervical screening.
- You are invited every 3 years between the ages of 25-49, and then every 5 years between the ages of 50-64.
- The best time to be tested is during the middle of your cycle as this can ensure a better sample of cells is taken.
- You should not have sexual intercourse 24 hours before your screening as lubricants, sperm could make it difficult to collect a good sample of the cells from the cervix.
- If you have undergone FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) or cutting let the nurse know.
- If you have been prescribed any vaginal cream to treat an infection then let your GP know so they can postpone it for a later date after the treatment has finished.
- Speculums come in different sizes, so be sure to ask for a smaller one if you are feeling uncomfortable.
- If you are embarrassed about revealing your lower half, then you should wear a skirt to cover your modesty, although a paper sheet should always be given to you, to cover yourself with.
- You don’t have to be alone in the room with the nurse and can ask for a family member or friend to be accompanied with you.
- Try and stay relaxed as much as possible, you will feel the discomfort more less.
- If it is your first time and you are worried, let the nurse now, as they will be able to assure you and make you feel less tense.
Thank you girls for taking the time to read this. Has anyone had the cervical screening? What was your experience? What ways do you think we could spread more awareness for women’s health. Thank you again for reading, and i’ll see you in my next post.