Cervical Cancer Prevention Week: five questions about smear tests answered (by a twenty-something who’s had one)

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week: five questions about smear tests answered (by a twenty-something who’s had one)

This week (22 – 28 January) is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week: a cause I’m especially passionate about.

I find it absolutely crazy that young women feel too embarrassed or afraid to get a smear test. As the age of testing in Scotland used to start at 20, I’ve already had my first smear, so I thought I’d share the experience with you in the hopes all you lovely ladies will stop feeling worried about it.

How do I get a smear test?
I know a lot of us put things off because they seem like a hassle (guilty!) but getting a smear test is really straightforward. If you’re over 25 you should have received a letter from the NHS telling you to book one with your GP. It’ll probably be a nurse who does it when you book, and always a female one so you don’t need to worry about that.

Is it embarrassing?
Getting your floof out in front of a stranger isn’t the dream, but you absolutely shouldn’t be embarrassed ladies! I’ve had so many issues over the years that my GP and I might as well be dating, so I probably have fewer concerns about letting a stranger see my vag than most women, but it’s honestly not a big deal.The first thing to remember is that nurses do this ALL. THE. TIME. They’ve seen more vaginas than you could imagine, and it’s totes not a big deal. Worried you’ve not shaved? So what?! It really, really doesn’t matter.

What will I have to do?
Well, not a lot to be honest. The nurse will ask you to take your pants off and then lie back with a cover over you and think of England (or Scotland. Hiya Scottish friends!) as she uses a speculum to open up your cervix. This sounds much more terrifying than it is, trust me. She’ll then take a swab around your cervix et voila! You’re good to go.

Will it hurt?
I’m sure this is the thing that puts most ladies off, but getting a smear test doesn’t hurt. Sure, it feels a bit weird have your vagina opened up a bit, and you might feel a little uncomfortable as you’re swabbed, but I’d say getting an injection is definitely worse. Heck, stubbing your toe is worse. Having a period is worse. Ladies, you’ll find a smear test a walk in the park compared to all the other crap we have to contend with as women.

Should I be worried?
So let’s talk about what happens next. Your results will come back either ‘normal’ or ‘abnormal’. No one likes the idea of getting an ‘abnormal’ test result, but this isn’t as worrying as you may think. According to the NHS, an abnormal smear test doesn’t automatically mean you have cancer. In fact, it’s possible to have abnormal results that clear up on their own, but your doctor can discuss this with you. At my smear test I was freaking out as I started bleeding – I was sure this was a sign of the worst. But you know what? My test came back clear! Don’t try to second guess your results and try not to worry as you wait to hear back.

Smear tests are easy, and in this country they’re also free – something we definitely shouldn’t take for granted. Cervical cancer often has no symptoms in the early stages, which is why it’s so important you get tested.

So if you haven’t already, why not book your smear test today?

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week