CW: This post describes a medical procedure of an internal cervical screening and the use of medical instruments. Reader discretion is advised.
So yesterday I went for my first cervical smear test. A few months ago, I received a letter from the hospital letting me know I was due to book an appointment through my doctor. I rang my GP and turns out they had a cancellation for the next morning, so I took it.
Having had to see the doctor for things down below like period issues and pain, I’m not a stranger to being opened with a speculum, examined, swobbed and ultrasound scanned, both internally and externally. So, I wasn’t terribly nervous about the smear itself, only a little re: the brush used to collect the sample (similar to a swob) as I’d never had that done before.
The nurse I had I’ve known for a number of years, so I felt at ease knowing it was someone I’d seen before. Even if you’re not phased by the testing itself (some people are and that’s ok) it still can be a bit daunting having a medical professional who is complete stranger performing a procedure that is for all intents and purposes, invasive.
Like how she went through what would happen before we did the smear, the appointment only took around 10 minutes. She asked if I would like a chaperone to feel more comfortable, but I was ok. She gave me the privacy to undress alone, with the curtain drawn around the area with the cushioned bed-table you see in doctor’s offices. I popped off my shoes, trousers and knickers, lying down with the white paper towel sheet over my modesty as she told me.
I went through the motions as I’d done many times before. Lie back, feet together, knees spread, think of England. I did some deep breathing to relax as much as I could, as the speculum went in and opened me up, she did five circles around my cervix with the brush tool used to collect the sample, speculum out.
Done. Bish bash bosh.
She told me I might experience some contact bleeding/spotting afterwards, which I did, but it stopped after a few hours as expected. Overall, the procedure itself was a little uncomfortable, but it doesn’t last long and there was nothing to it.
With it being my first cervical smear, the build-up to having the test done and the slight cramping-like dull aching in my lower belly and legs I felt afterwards (almost identical to when I’m about to go on/on my period) did make me feel tired and I ended up having a little nap in the evening. Today, I feel fine.
I understand why people put it off and can be nervous for whatever reason. Speaking for myself however, I was made to feel incredibly comfortable and the nurse was very accommodating. You don’t have to just take it if you’re really uncomfortable and/or in any pain. You can stop at any time if you need to take a breather, ask to use a smaller speculum etc.
You’re well within your rights to talk things through with your nurse/doctor about anything you’re unsure of, uncomfortable with or nervous about so they can ensure you have a comfortable experience and feel completely safe.
It is important to have it done as it could potentially save your life one day, but I feel it’s unfair to say “just stop putting it off and go in there!” as there are a myriad of reasons why people may feel uneasy, or distressed at the prospect of a cervical smear, i.e. trans inclusion, sexual trauma etc. As aforementioned, you have every right to talk things through with your GP/medical professional so your needs can be accommodated in the way that is best for you.
Here is the link to the NHS page on cervical screening, detailing things much better than I can as I’m not a qualified medical professional.
Now I have to wait a few weeks for the results and go from there.
All my love,
*Picture – Pinterest