5 Things not to do at a Smear Test

I’m a big believer in the old cervical smear.

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: “They 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.) 
  4. 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?” 
  5. 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.

You’re welcome.


Pic: Shutterstock


Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.


  1. 13th March 2014 / 7:20 pm

    Oh my goodness! I was a similar amount of months late with my last one and was told to arrange it 14days from day 1 of period. As it happened I was lucky that the nurse who did it on the Friday evening was ready for me and even called me in early. She did “crank me open” and ***then*** fight the angle poise lamp, all the while I have a chilly breeze blowing around parts that don’t normally feel the breeze! I saw the brush she was about to use and almost squealed WTF as the bristles were about an inch long. But all credit to that nurse, least painful one I have had.
    Emma B recently posted..Liquid Sky Lacquer Iris IllusionMy Profile

    • 14th March 2014 / 8:50 am

      A good nurse makes all the difference, doesn’t it?

    • 14th March 2014 / 8:50 am

      Then my humiliation was well shared x

  2. 13th March 2014 / 7:43 pm

    Thank you Sally, I really needed cheering up and you’ve made me laugh out loud. I think I’ve woken the baby – but it was worth it. Hope Flea has come to terms with what you’ve told her…
    Kiran @ Mummy Says recently posted..My toddler’s tough lifeMy Profile

    • 14th March 2014 / 8:50 am

      I’m not sure she ever will. “It comes from WHERE??”

  3. 13th March 2014 / 8:16 pm

    I had a terrible embarrassment at my last smear. I knew my period was due in 3 or 4 days, so thought I was safe and my period ALWAYS starts at about 4am and there was nothing that morning, so I toddled off to the doctor without a care in the world. I stripped off, all was fine, the nurse does her job – and announces that my period has started.
    Kath Knitty Mummy recently posted..Superhero bedroom – comic strip tissue box coverMy Profile

    • 14th March 2014 / 8:51 am

      HA! Mind you, I bet they see it all the time. That’s what I tell myself, anyway.

  4. Nikki
    13th March 2014 / 8:33 pm

    Good grief, you’re doing this parenting/life stuff in style :-))))) Love, love, love it. So far my kids faux pas’s have all taken place at home rather than in a public place (like Matthew saying “Do you get pregnant through the belly button, or by swallowing daddy’s seed” – oh yes.

    • Nikki
      13th March 2014 / 8:38 pm

      Should add…..not in public….so far…..

      • 14th March 2014 / 8:51 am

        It’ll come. I promise.

  5. Sandra
    13th March 2014 / 8:35 pm

    I’m sorry but that is the funniest thing I’ve heard all day. I have tears running down my face. I remember taking my eldest to a smear when he was 3. He asked the nurse if he could have a go!

    • 14th March 2014 / 8:51 am

      Did you let him?

      • Sandra
        15th March 2014 / 10:23 pm

        Good lord no!
        He now just says loudly in the supermarket “why do we have to buy nappies for Mummy?”. There’s a reason why I sent DH shopping on his own with the kids! 😉

  6. Charley
    13th March 2014 / 8:52 pm

    I’m so pleased its not just me who can’t remember when my last period was!! Most cringeworthy part of mine was male doctor declaring ‘you are very tight’ as he attempted to push the duck lips in…I’m not sure my response of ‘thank you’ was quite what he expected!

    • 14th March 2014 / 8:52 am

      It’s HARD to remember, if you’re not actively tracking it. I think so, anyway. And frankly, I think one should take a compliment where one can get it.

    • 14th March 2014 / 8:52 am

      You are more than welcome.

  7. 13th March 2014 / 9:26 pm

    Also – don’t (in an attempt to lighten the mood and deal with your nerves) tell the nurse a joke as she “reaches in for the kill” you might make her giggle and the subsequent sharp movement of her hand can be a little uncomfortable causing you to squeak and her to blush furiously and almost cry – at least so I friend once told me!
    Mary Keynko recently posted..52 Cook books week 11My Profile

    • 14th March 2014 / 8:52 am

      Ooph! Bet that was a lesson learned!

  8. 13th March 2014 / 9:27 pm

    This made me laugh a lot. Though I do feel a little outnumbered. And if I ever have to go through anythign like that something has gone seriously wrong!

    • 14th March 2014 / 8:53 am

      It might be a tad worrying if you did. Best just to run if anyone approaches you with a speculum.

    • 14th March 2014 / 8:53 am

      It could never be that bad again, right? Right?

    • 14th March 2014 / 8:53 am

      Glad to be of service 🙂

  9. 13th March 2014 / 9:50 pm

    Haha! I have to book mine very soon and this has SO NOT set my mind at rest… I hope Flea has got over the trauma of it!

    • 19th March 2014 / 12:00 am

      Good luck!

    • 14th March 2014 / 8:54 am

      Quite. Kids, eh? My reputation locally is quite something, let me tell you.

    • 14th March 2014 / 8:55 am

      haha! I tell myself the upside is it made a funny blog post. It’s some (small) comfort.

  10. Mummypinkwellies
    14th March 2014 / 7:29 am

    PLEASE write your memoirs? 😉

    • 14th March 2014 / 8:55 am

      But my life is so uneventful! *in my dreams*

    • 19th March 2014 / 12:00 am

      I hope your meeting wasn’t too disrupted…

    • 19th March 2014 / 12:00 am

      Ha! It’s got to be done, though, hasn’t it?

  11. 14th March 2014 / 11:37 am

    Must not read your blog while at work – the post was hilarious as are some of the comments.
    Smear tests are the worst and when discussing puberty with 10yo the other day didn’t mention that – but hey she won’t be having any sex so no need RIGHT!

    Ffion Hoare recently posted..Welsh cakesMy Profile

    • 19th March 2014 / 12:01 am

      Almost certainly not.

  12. 14th March 2014 / 11:43 am

    I have been forgetting to book my smear for the last couple of months but after snorting my way through your blog I KNOW it can’t be as bad as your experience… Thank you for reminding me and entertaining me

    • 19th March 2014 / 12:01 am

      I’m glad to have reminded 🙂

  13. Lynne
    14th March 2014 / 12:15 pm

    Hilarious!!!!!! Absolutely PMSL! I do however take exception to the WHSmith comment! I work for them and everyone in our little shop is friendly. See there are exceptions to every rule

    • 19th March 2014 / 12:01 am

      In our town, honestly, it’s like they’re on Death Row.

    • 19th March 2014 / 12:02 am

      Chocolate cake, please.

    • 19th March 2014 / 12:02 am

      Yes. I was braced. So long as it’s tempered with sympathy. *sniff*

  14. MyLovelyBigFeetBlog
    15th March 2014 / 2:10 pm

    I was laughing as I read the story, i didn’t want to tell my children why. I am always re-scheduling my appt. and I hope that I don’t end up having to take one of the kids with me to a smear test appointment.

    A true story that had me laughing all the way.

  15. J.R.Barker
    17th March 2014 / 7:49 pm

    Turned out I knew the nurse who did my first (and so far only) smear, not the slightest bit awkward…

    • 19th March 2014 / 12:03 am

      I had to reschedule an appointment once when the receptionist made it with a GP who’s a friend. Talk about potentially awkward. Poor you.

    • 21st March 2014 / 12:32 pm

      My result just came back “abnormal” and “high risk” 🙁

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