Foof, nunny, flower, fanny or whatever the hell you call your… vagina! (Feels almost like using the word Voldemort in Harry Potter, doesn’t it?!) Anyway truth be told no one wants to get it out in front a complete stranger and when I got reminded about my smear test the general ‘exposing myself’ anxiety kicks in and I turn to google… cue flashing red lights!! Why are there so many horror stories?! I’ve recently had my first smear so thought I’d write about my experience of it. Every year in the UK there are more than 3,000 cases of cervical cancer diagnosed, it’s so important to attend your smear as nearly 900 women die every year from it in the UK. Women aged 25-64 are invited to attend a smear and I got a letter asking me to call my doctors to arrange an appointment. I was late booking mine as I was pregnant with Chester and then you have to wait 12 weeks post baby before having a smear.
I was pretty nervous about the appointment, which is crazy after 2 kids you’d think I’d be used to people looking into my vagina but let’s be honest, it’s not what you’d choose to do on your Monday afternoon. So when I went into the appointment the nurse talked me through the procedure, told me what they were checking for, what would happen if there were abnormal cells and then said the results should be back within 2 weeks. All pretty straightforward! You then have to go behind the dreaded curtain… which I’ll never quite understand as they’ll see your vagina in a minute so privacy feels straight out of the window. Anyway you lay on the bed with that single sheet of roll draped over you pretending you’ve got some modesty left!
The speculum is inserted, which especially if you’ve naturally had 2 kids, just goes straight in. It wasn’t painful, more uncomfortable. The nurse then opens the speculum inside of you to open your cervix, swabs around a bit and then pulls it out quicker than you’d realised it had even started. I think the main thing is to stay relaxed as possible because if you tense up it makes it harder for the nurse to insert it and in theory MAY become more uncomfortable. I was amazed at how quickly it was over AND… it wasn’t painful in the slightest. You’re then left to get dressed and head out of there for the next 3 years. I had a little bit of spotting for a day or two after but it was nothing major and literally only when I wiped after a wee.
I think it’s mainly fear and embarrassment that scare women off attending their smear and a scarily high figure of 1 in 4 women do not attend theirs. It’s not the most pleasant experience but it really can save your life so please don’t hesitate in booking yours… let’s be honest if you’ve given birth then this is much more dignified!!!
For more information I’ll link the NHS website containing loads of useful information… https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening/why-its-important/