Let’s talk about Smear Tests!

Let’s face it us women sure do have a bum deal when it comes to matters ‘down there’ – no not Australia I mean our Vaginas.  Not only do we have to deal with periods once a month (sometimes more if we are unlucky) we also have those letters hitting our doormats every 3 years inviting us to have a smear test.

Now this may seem scary, especially if it is your first time and you don’t know what to expect but it really shouldn’t be.

I know the thoughts and questions going around your head too – they went around mine and all my friends:

Will it hurt?

Do I have to get undressed?

Does it take long?

Will I bleed?

Do I need to shave/wax?

What do I have to do and what happens?
When will I get the results?

There really isn’t a silly question when it comes to these tests, it’s often the unknown which frightens us the most, so I thought it would be helpful to cover these questions here.

Will it hurt?
I won’t lie and say no you won’t feel it at all, it is an uncomfortable feeling but it shouldn’t hurt.

Do I have to get undressed?
Only from the waist down.  You will need to remove your underwear and trousers or pull up a skirt.

How long does it take?
5 minutes tops, it takes longer for the nurse to fill in your forms than it does to collect your sample.

Will I bleed?
Everyone is different and therefore your cervix lining different too, some don’t bleed and some will.  I personally have had 4 smear tests now and bled only for one of these, but only a tiny bit which lasted less than half an hour.  Think of it like a scratch, some bleed and some don’t.

Do I need to shave/wax?
No, your nurse will have seen everything before so you really do not have to worry about tidying.  I know it can be embarrassing but believe me she isn’t at all interested in whether you are shaved, trimmed or have a heart shape designed down there – she is doing her job and won’t even be looking.

What do I have to do and what happens?
Right let’s get down to the actual smear test.  You will be behind a curtain while the nurse is getting her equipment ready, while behind the curtain you will have to remove your clothes from the waist down (socks can stay on), then you hop up onto the examination table and lay down.  You will find some of the paper towelling has been left for you – this is to help cover your modesty a little, pop it over your waist and you are ready – you can let the nurse know when you are ready.

You will be instructed to put your knees together and then raise your knees so your heels are towards your bum, you then need to open your knees as far as is comfortable.

The nurse then insets an instrument called a speculum into your vagina, this holds the walls open so your cervix can be seen.  A soft brush will then be used to gently collect some cells from the surface of your cervix.  Once collected it is placed into a sterile sample pot, labelled and sent off for testing.

You can then get dressed.

When will I get the results?

They will arrive on your doorstep within around 2 weeks, sometimes sooner.

The cervical screening test (previously known as a smear test) is a method of detesting abnormal cells on the cervix (the entrance to the womb from the vagina).  By detecting and then removing any abnormal cervical cells can help to prevent cervical cancer.

Cervical screening isn’t a test for cancer; it’s a test to check the health of the cells of the cervix. Most women’s test results show that everything is normal, but for around 1 in 20 women the test shows some abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. Most of these changes won’t lead to cervical cancer and the cells may go back to normal on their own. However, in some cases, the abnormal cells need to be removed so they can’t become cancerous.

About 3,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year in the UK.

The aim of the NHS Cervical Screening Programme is to reduce the number of women who develop cervical cancer and the number of women who die from the condition. Since the screening programme was introduced in the 1980s, the number of cervical cancer cases has decreased by about 7% each year.
All women who are registered with a GP are invited for cervical screening:

  • aged 25 to 49 – every three years
  • aged 50 to 64 – every five years
  • over 65 – only women who haven’t been screened since age 50 or those who have recently had abnormal tests

Being screened regularly means any abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix can be identified at an early stage and, if necessary, treated to stop cancer developing.

I personally feel that the age of 25 should be lowered for these tests, many women have already become sexually active long before that age and many have had children by then too.  I feel 18-20 would be the correct age to start screening and I do hope to see this age limit lowered by the time Emmy comes to have hers in many years to come.  You only have to remember back to the very sad and tragic loss of Jade Goody back in 2009 who was a young mum of only 27 years old when she lost her battle with cervical cancer.

This post isn’t a commissioned post, I’ve not been asked to write it at all, it is something I feel very strongly about and want to help others who may have any questions or worries put their minds at rest.

I had my 4th smear test this morning and will get my results in around 2 weeks time.

*Post Edit*: 29th June
My results came back normal.  Next Smear will be due in June 2019.