Getting your Smear Test – 8 Top Tips & Addressing the Demons!

We all know smear tests are incredibly important – it is screening your cervix for pre-cancerous cells – so we all know that when that letter comes through the door, we need to make that appointment. But then there is that little nagging bit of dread that rises up in your stomach, and suddenly there are demons in your brain telling you all sorts of things that you just don’t want to hear…

“You’re going to have to take your knickers off in front of someone you don’t know…”
“A Nurse is going to see my bits…”
“It might hurt…”
“It’s so embarrassing…”

…and all of a sudden that appointment in your diary becomes something you are seriously dreading.

Well, and this might be TMI, but I had my smear test done on tuesday, and I can tell you, it really isn’t that bad; so firstly, let’s address those little demons….

“You’re going to have to take your knickers off in front of someone you don’t know…”
Yes, you are going to have to take your knickers off in front of a stranger, but they still cover you up as much as possible, give you a sheet to put over yourself and some places even give you paper knickers too – and are you really exposing any more than you do when you get a bikini wax?!

“A Nurse is going to see my bits…”
Ok, a nurse is going to “see your bits”, but yours won’t be her first, or even her last that day – and as a student midwife I can tell you, once you’ve seen a few, they all look the same – she really doesn’t care what your bits look like!! She does hundreds of these, and she knows what she is doing!

“It might hurt…”
Alright, brutal honesty here, yes, sometimes they do hurt. Sometimes they don’t. I’ve spoken to friends of mine who barely knew it was happening and it was done, and other friends who felt 30 seconds of pain and then just had a dull ache for the rest of the afternoon – but really guys, if it might save your life, you can cope with a minute of pain and a period-like cramp for a bit, can’t you? (and that really is as bad as it gets, I promise!)

“It’s so embarrassing…”
This is something that might save your life. This nurse does hundreds of these and really knows what she is doing. It is free. Yes, it might be a little embarrassing, but are you really going to let 15 minutes of being a bit embarrassed stop you from being screened for cervical cancer? I don’t think so.

So, now that I’ve addressed those little demons (the female brain is cruel, right?!), I can go into my little tips to make it a bit of a better experience for you. Now I thought these up during the afternoon I was getting my smear test done, so these are the things that I did, and they certainly made me feel better throughout the experience so I thought I’d share them with you guys!

  1. Wear something comfy – this is the doctor’s surgery, not a Milan runway, so pull on some joggers and ugg boots, forget your tight skinny jeans and heels, and make yourself feel comfortable; for before and after!
  2. Make yourself feel clean – Have a shower that morning, then you know you’re all clean and fresh and it’ll make you less self-conscious!
  3. Forget the sexy knickers – Firstly, the nurse totally doesn’t care what knickers you are wearing, and second, a lacy thong is probably the last thing you’re gonna feel like putting on after the test is done, so sack off the sexy, lacy french knickers and go for a good old fashioned pair of cotton pants – you’ll feel so much better putting them on again afterwards!
  4. Don’t arrive too early – if you get to the doctor’s surgery really early, you’ll end up driving yourself crazy in the waiting room, thinking over it all so try to arrive on time, or about 5 mins before – it’ll make the wait easier!
  5. Distract yourself – If you’re really anxious, wear your headphones and listen to some music that makes you happy – the nurse won’t mind and you can zone out for a few minutes while she does what needs doing! You can even bring a friend or family member with you if you would like.
  6. Breathe – Take a few long, deep breaths; the more relaxed you are, the easier it is to do the test, and the less uncomfortable it’ll be!
  7. Have some paracetamol in your bag – that way if it does hurt (and often it doesn’t hurt at all!) you can take some as soon as you get out of the doctors to ward off the dull ache that could follow.
  8. Plan something nice for afterwards – whether that is going for a coffee with a friend, having a nice cosy evening in with a loved one (cuddles do make everything better!), or taking yourself to your favourite shop and treating yourself to that notebook or pair of jeans you’ve been lusting over.

It’s never gonna be something you look forward to, but it really isn’t as bad as it can be made out to be – and it really is so so important. Smear tests save 5,000 lives every years in the UK – and you only have it done every 3 years, so it’s so worth getting it done!

For more information about the smear test, and cervical cancer screening, Jo’ Cervical Cancer Trust has loads of information. I’ve also included one of their videos below which goes through the process of the smear test. It’s not as bad as you think it’ll be, so book that appointment and get the test – it could save your life!

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