Ok, sorry about the vulgar blog post title, but I wanted to grab your attention. Today I’m going to talk about vagina’s. Not in a horrible way either; I noticed there’s a lot of media attention surrounding Smear Tests about today, so I thought I’d give you an insight into MY experience of having one and my apprehensions before hand and why it was ultimately nothing to be the slightest bit bothered about! So grab a drink and cross your legs ladies, there’s a cervix or two to discuss.
So, many of you may know I’m a little bit older than I look – I’m 27 in fact (gasp!) and shortly before my 25th Birthday I received a letter from the NHS. It was ‘inviting’ me to my smear test! Instead of having the usual reaction one has when ‘invited’ to something (for example a blogging event where you think YAY GOODY BAG!) I did not get excited one bit. In fact, I pretty much felt my stomach drop and went in to a silent fit of anxious panic. I know that having the smear test (such a nice name for it too, maybe they need to consider a rebrand to make it sound more appealing!) is a standard thing, but I’m Terri Lowe, I don’t *do* doctors visits, I’ve never even been in hospital apart from when I got ran over by the paper boy when I was 4 and broke my leg (don’t even mention BMX’s to me). So going to a person I didn’t know and getting my bits out really did not appeal and I put off the test for a good 6 months…..
Was this the right thing to do? HELL. NO. Within this period of anxiously putting it off and waiting around I expressed my concerns to some then colleagues and a few friends. A lot of my friends are a year or two younger than me, so that didn’t help that non of them had experience such things. The older ones, some of them helped, some definitely didn’t! There were many horror stories I’d been told. Like they SCRAPE your insides and it’s quite a painful experience. So there I was building it up in my head thinking I’m going to have to go completely starkers from the waist down for some stranger to scrape my insides with an apparatus resembling a toothbrush….
Was this the reality though? NO. I made my appointment with a lot of resentment, I don’t know about other area’s but in Stoke on Trent we I didn’t go to my regular GP surgery for this although I do think other area’s can do. Mine was a clinic in Newcastle Under Lyme which was a specialist Family Planning and Sexual Health one. My mind immediately went in to overdrive during the one week I had to wait for my appointment, I thought all kinds of crazy crap! Even to the extent of ”Will I be able to drive back afterwards MY WOMB WILL BE IN TURMOIL” and other things so borderline weird that I won’t even write them. Just put it this was, I was scared.
I turned up for the appointment in good time, only having to wait for around 5 minutes. I must say these types of clinics aren’t exactly the most welcoming of places in appearance. The receptionist was sat behind a glass window like at the bank and the place has a eery silence to it. I waited in the waiting room which was not dissimilar to where you’d spend time in isolation when you’re excluded from lessons at school, in fact they even had those horrible plastic chairs they have at schools in there. I had a gander at the leaflets on show and found an array of depressing ones about STI’s and similar exciting subjects all in lovely fonts and designs which made me think of the 80’s. Then I was called in to the ROOM OF DOOM.
What met me was a very pleasant nurse, she could clearly see I was nervous, and just to confirm I did tell her so about 5 times. Now one tip I will give you if you’re scared of revealing yourself: Wear a knee length skirt and knee high socks!! It saves the awkward taking down your trousers/tights thing and makes you feel a little better about only having to pop your pants down and skirt up! (I hope no perverts are googling these keywords) The nurse gave me a sheet of lovely blue kitchen roll to place over myself anyway though even though my skirt covered my mimsy. Just remember no matter how ugly you think your flaps are, these nurses see this type of thing EVERY day and even if you have a right freaky looking crotch, they’ve probably seen a LOT worse, vagina’s are probably like looking at a cup of tea for these people. Now comes the scary part…..
I didn’t actually look at what the nurse was doing/inserting down there. But it did feel ever so slightly uncomfortable. I was obviously on edge and she told me to relax a little bit and when I did it was a little less uncomfortable. Just as soon as that it was over! I was done!!?? Literally around 5 seconds. After ALL that anxiety, panic, stress it was done, like that!!! Then came the wait for the results…. Me being me, was now convinced they’d find something wrong, so I dreaded to day the result came back! It took around 2 weeks I think and when it came I left it a few hours before I dared open it! And once again – nothing was there to worry about!! I’d given myself 6 months of worry for nothing!! The uncomfortable part I should mention is the plastic clamp they place inside to open the area up, it’s a little cold and big, but does not hurt! I felt nothing on the inside from the ‘scrape’.
Now I’m not saying everyone will have this experience, or saying everyone will have an all clear test, but this is the point of smear tests – to detect if there is anything of concern to be treated. The sooner something is identified the sooner something can be done about it. Imagine if I’d put mine off for that long and then there was something of concern that came back in the results? I would regret it so much and I do regret putting it off for as long as I did and worrying so much about it! I also wish I hadn’t asked others about it because hardly anyone came back with a positive response, and I really don’t know why other women would want younger ones who are clearly a bit scared to feel like that! If you’ve had a test please share your experience in the comments and hopefully anyone who is having issues worrying will be put at ease. We need to make this a positive activity because ultimately girls – it’s going to save a life or two.
You can find more information and even a really warm and friendly *cough* video here: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cervical-screening-test/Pages/Introduction.aspx
*Don’t worry, normal blogging will resume shortly, it’s just something I wanted to share, we need to change the culture of being scared of this type of thing!