I’m a big believer in the old cervical smear test.
Not as in: “I believe they exist, not like unicorns and friendly sales assistants in WH Smith, both of which are clearly mythical creatures.”
More as in: “Smear tests are a good and important thing.”
Which is why I was only
18 a few months late in having my most recent appointment with the nurse for my scheduled test.
Lots of women worry that a smear test is embarrassing or inconvenient. But hopefully this post will reassure you and set your fears to rest.
Not as in: “Pap smears are not embarrassing or inconvenient.”
More as in: “Your smear test will never be quite as embarrassing and inconvenient as my smear test.”
Based on my experience, here are my top five tips to make your cervical smear test less awkward:
- If you have to reschedule your smear test appointment because it falls during your period, then you should make a note of the date, and ensure your next appointment is roughly mid-cycle. Apparently this is the best time to have a smear test. Don’t ring up the receptionist, let her re-book the appointment and fail to really pay attention to the date of your new appointment. Basically, don’t have a smear test when you’re on your period.
- After you actually have your test, you may experience what the NHS website refers to as “light spotting”. This is entirely normal, and if it happens to you, don’t panic and start Googling “symptoms of cervical cancer“. You probably especially want to avoid Googling “UK survival rates for cervical cancer”. That ends in a bad, bad place. Some light spotting after a smear test is TOTALLY normal.
- If the spotting is quite heavy, and continues for more than three days, then you should go to see your GP, who will examine you to ensure your cervix looks healthy and nothing has been inadvertently severed, slashed or otherwise damaged during your smear test. It’s possible that while the GP examines you, they will ask for the date of your last period. It’s also possible you might realise, as the GP shines a torch at your cervix, that your last period was about 30 days ago. In this case you should probably not admit that you spent the weekend convinced you were dying, when in fact you were having your period. Just like the ones you’ve had pretty much every month for 30 years. That would be awkward. I mean, I imagine it would be. Hypothetically speaking. (What?? I have a busy schedule, I can’t be expected to remember EVERYTHING.)
- On the off-chance you had to take your child to the GP appointment with you, and they catch snippets of the conversation you had with the doctor from the other side of the curtain, you should absolutely not exit the GP surgery through a waiting room crowded with pensioners on the off-chance that the aforementioned small child asks, in her best LOUD voice, “Mummy, why were you bludgeoned in the vagina?” Don’t take your kids to your smear test, friends. The upside of this is that no doctor/nurse will EVER be surprised by anything you say or do at a smear test.
- If your child has just outed you as the victim of a possibly the most alarming injury EVER in front of 50 pensioners, don’t hurriedly and quietly try and explain the concept of menstruation while you wait for a receptionist to print off a prescription, because the small child’s horrified scream of, “OH MY GOODNESS, I DID NOT NEED TO KNOW THAT!” will only make matters worse.
Yep. That’s me. Humiliating myself daily so you don’t have to.
If you want to know more about what to expect from a smear test check out this page from Jo’s Trust.