THE SMEAR

When it comes to talking about lady bits and female health, you don’t have to ask me twice. I’m all for shouting about getting those lumps and bumps checked, which is why I thought I’d share my second smear experience with you. You know, just in case you fancied delving into the inner workings of my gynaecological health.

So for those who are still here and haven’t clicked away in horror, here’s how my second smear was notably different from my first, in case you were worried or wondering about yours.

I now have a Mirena coil.

I know right, I didn’t think it would make a difference, either. Particularly as someone who holds her IUD in such high esteem. But lo and behold, my coil made the whole experience hella more uncomfortable than my first.

Having no qualms about dropping my knickers for doctors and nurses, IΒ naively waltzed into the surgery ready for my close up. She took her swab and I winced. Turns out, when you have a coil, your cervix is more sensitive to prodding and can tend to bleed when a smear is taken, leading to a chance of discomfort – and more frustratingly – inconclusive results.

I thought I’d share this information because, if I’d have known, I’d have popped a couple of paracetamol beforehand to take the edge off. Now you can.

I had an amazing nurse.

She was playing soft whale music on arrival and when it came to the test, she asked me to insert the speculum myself. I do realise it sounds like I went to some hippie retreat for my screening, but I can assure you, it was an NHS surgery with its priorities in the right place, making for a really zen experience.

In stark contrast, the nurse who conducted my first smear test chatted loudly the whole way through, didn’t explain what she was doing and then somehow lost my sample. I had to go back and do it again, so in actual fact, this was my third smear we’re talking about here.

The nurse I had last week, however, said she would rather her patients insert the speculum themselves as they know their own bodies and she explained the whole process to me beforehand, followed by reassurance during the whole Mirena-sore-cervix-debacle. It made me realise your practitioner really can have a huge effect on your smear experience and I shouldn’t be so quick to judge when people tell me they’ve had a bad one.

Either way, though. Great nurse or not, uncomfortable or pain-free, when that letter arrives reminding you to book your smear, just do it. Sometimes cancer creeps up on us like a bad smell. Other times, it bursts in kicking and screaming. But once it’s there, it’s there and you’re much better off catching it when it first arrives, rather than when it’s already set up home and invited its family around for tea.

So, instead of popping the envelope on the ‘to deal with’ pile, along with student loan statements and ASOS returns, to be forgotten about for months on end, deal with it immediately. Unlike jeans that don’t fit and that 8 quid coming out of your account each month, this piece of paper is crucial, and by neglecting to take action on it, you’re actually putting your life at risk.

Any questions, let me know. In the meantime, book that appointment.Β Thirty seconds of discomfort or awkwardness is nothing in comparison to what might happen if you ignore it.

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