Smear. The dreaded word to most women. However, the word should not be feared smears are important for our physical health
In the last year, the number of people going for a smear is lower than ever.
10 years ago this year, Jade Goody died, this women did everything she could to promote smears and for everyone to get them to avoid her fate.
So why are women skipping this test?
Fear and embarrassment.
Fear is normal, of course, any test from the doctors is nerve-wracking because you just don’t know what the results are going to be, some women are scared because they think the test will hurt.
Embarrassment however there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Your doctor has seen 100’s even 1000s of vaginas in their career. They don’t care how it looks, if its dark, wrinkly, tucked in not tucked in, hairy or smooth. They have one job and that’s to swab your cervix.
Of course, having a complete stranger look at your genitals whilst shoving a metal instrument in your lady area is not the most pleasant or comfortable experience, however, it is so worth five minutes of your time.
How the test is performed
The test is done quite discreetly, to be honest. When you see your doctor you will go into a room or behind a curtain to remove the clothes from your bottom half.
You’ll then be instructed to lay down on the bed with a cover over your legs.
Once you’re ready the doctor will come in and get you into a position that is comfortable for you and easy for the doctor to work with.
They’ll walk through the test with you and even show you the instruments used if that makes you feel more comfortable. The plastic/metal speculum looks like a duck to be honest. Can be scary to see if this is your first time but honestly it’s a small instrument. Then the tool to swab the cells of your cervix looks like a longer version of a mascara brush. After the quick walk through the doctor will ask if it’s okay to go ahead.
The test will then go ahead. I won’t lie its bloody freezing when they insert the speculum, but just stay as calm and relaxed as possible as tensing up makes the process more uncomfortable and it’ll take longer. If I’m honest you don’t really feel anything but the lube they use. The swabbing of the cervix can feel uncomfortable depending on how sensitive it is but it doesn’t hurt. It’s over with within 5 minutes, that’s it.
You’ll then get given wipes to clean your self up and get left alone to get dressed.
The results can take up to 6 weeks (14 days in the UK) which if I’m honest is the worst part of the whole smear. Waiting for results just drags.
What does it actually test for?
The main reason for the test is for abnormal cells around the cervix. A lot of people think it’s just a test for cancer but it’s not. It does however prevent cancer if detected.
HPV is one most common finds when abnormal cells are detected. There is more than 100 different types of HPV. The high-risk type can turn cancerous so it’s always best to get yourself tested to be safe.
How to book
When you’re reaching 25 years old you should receive a letter through the post to say you need a screening.
If possible always try to book an appointment when you’re due to be in your mid-cycle as it gives better accuracy for the results.
Depending on your age you should be tested every three years. Women over 50 it’s every 5.
If you feel uncomfortable about having a male doctor you can request a female, also take someone you feel comfortable with if it’ll make the experience a little less daunting for you. Smear tests aren’t easy for everyone and that’s okay.
I’d like to say I’m so lucky to have had 3 smear tests done in my life so far and I’m only 21. It’s very rare that doctors will do this but due to certain circumstances and my health I had it done. I won’t go on about my opinion on how the age should be lowered before 25 because I’ll be here all day.
However if you are under the age of 25 and have had a baby or experience symptoms of cervical cancer you CAN push to have a smear!
Don’t fear the smear, you’re not alone. For more info visit JosTrust.