Friday, 30 January 2015

#SmearForSmear || What It's Like & Why It's So Important

Okay so this might seem a slightly strange, kind of invasive thing to post on the internet but I think it's something you would all benefit from reading and previous lifestyle posts on things like anxiety and confidence you have all found really helpful. 

The idea from this post came from when my little sister who's only sixteen and a friend told me they would never get a smear test and that it was scary and they'd rather just not bother. That was then I realised that it isn't widely spoken about, it's a bit of a private topic so most people won't share their experience or put off going for their smear. I was really unsure whether to do this post or not but having asked my friends they agreed with me that it was a good idea and something that's important to be shared.

I also saw the #SmearForSmear campaign going about and I thought that this would be the perfect way and opportunity to share this post with you which I've already had typed up just not published.

Smear tests are something us woman all get told to go for, here in Scotland it's over twenty and in England I think it's over 25. Despite us being told to go, it's still quite a daunting experience for us woman who've never had one done before and there's not a lot of information available online as to what it's actually like. Obviously the less something is talked about then the more scary it seems and I know how I felt when I got the letter through the door. Part of me deep down knew I wanted to go because why not take up an opportunity that could potentially save your life? However the other part of me felt sick at the thought of having to go and have a complete stranger do a very private examination. I also feel the smear test age should be lowered to 18 everywhere because the reality is most people have sex before they're 25 and now a days even before they're 18 so I think it's so important that safety is put before morals. That's not to say that I think people should sleep around or have sex before they're 18 but the fact of life is a lot of people do and they should be allowed to have the examination too. Even if it was just a case of being able to ask for a smear before the age that you're requested to go, there should be no limits on safety. There was a story in the news recently of a 23 year old in England who was refused a smear, despite having cervical cancer history in the family and she sadly passed away from cervical cancer after repeatedly being refused a smear.

First of all in the waiting room I felt really anxious, I got so worked up before I went in and I want to stress that all that worrying was more upsetting than the examination. I actually booked mine with a female doctor which I think helped a bit for me because obviously she will have to get this done too and knows exactly how you're feeling. So my first point would be if you're feeling a little nervous about it then ask reception for a female doctor at the time you book it. The second thing I'd advise doing is getting someone to take you either a family member, partner or close friend. I got Gary to give me a lift down because I knew if I had someone waiting on me I wouldn't back out and cancel my appointment last minute. 

For me when I got in the room there was actually a student doctor there and they asked me if it was okay if she stayed. This is not something thats likely to happen but if it is don't be afraid to say no!! I know they're doctors of the future and they need to learn but for your first smear test you don't really need it to be anymore daunting than it already is. I politely said no I'm really sorry normally I wouldn't bother but not today and they were fine with that.

Before the doctor/nurse (I had a doctor cancellation but you'll likely get a nurse) does the test she asks you how your feeling and explains what will happen and then you get put behind a curtain to take your clothes off and get on to a bed. It obviously is not the most dignified experience but remembering that doctors see plenty of the same everyday and also pregnant woman have to go through it really helps. Your vagay-jay no matter what shape, size, colour will be nothing new to a doctor or nurse. Then cold jelly is applied to the area and a clamp is used to hold you open which is not as scary as it sounds, I promise!!! and the doctor uses a little instrument to gather some cells from your cervix. I'm not going to lie to you and say it was absolutely pain free because it wasn't but it's more uncomfortable than painful. I'm sure most of you have experienced period pain and that is exactly what it feels like, the highest point in a wave of period pain except constant for 2/3 minutes. It can be over quicker or slightly longer depending on how long it takes for the doctor to see your cervix clearly. 

As I said above, smear tests are not the scary painful experience you imagine it to be. For me the pain of waiting in the waiting room was more uncomfortable. When it's done it is a bit sore but more that dragging uncomfortable period pain feeling in your tummy/lower abdomen area. Then once its done the doctor leaves you to get dressed, you come out and they tell you that you'll get your results within 6 weeks and unless theres a problem with your cells thats you for 3 years. Mines thankfully came back clear but if it hadn't then I'd have given myself the best chance of fighting cervical cancer by going for the smear. It is worth a mention though that the smear can come back unclear and it doesn't mean you have cervical cancer, it can be an inaccurate smear or that insufficient cells were gathered.

I honestly can't stress how important getting this test done is, when you think about it whats more painful? the possibility of getting cervical cancer and having to have a doctor regularly down there and going for chemotherapy or a few minutes of a little bit embarrassment and low level pain? I know which one I would chose!

I want to add that even if you've had the HPV jag at school (equally important) which I have had, it's still important to get your smear test done every three years. 

I am so glad I went for it now because it's out of the way for three years and I can relax knowing I'm healthy. I'd love it if you would share this post with all your female friends because like the advert says 'together we can fight cancer' and if this saves one persons life then its worth writing! Also I'd love it if you shared it with the hashtag #SmearforSmear and share pictures of you with your smeared lipstick so I can see them all.

Knowledge is power.

Lots of Love,

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