• Katy Stephenson

Tips For Your First Smear Test

My first smear test was something I dreaded ever since the letter first arrived at my house. I put it off and off until I eventually booked it and then the panic set in even more. But really, I had absolutely nothing to worry about.

I've already written a blog post about my first smear test experience but long story short, it was quick, painless and not as embarrassing as I first thought. There were a few things I made sure of to make everything as easy as possible so I thought it would be a good idea to share these tips for your first smear test.

In a survey conducted by Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, it was discovered that 70% of women don’t think cervical screenings reduce a woman’s risk of cervical cancer (source). That statistic could not be further from the truth which is why we need to spread the word of how important smear tests are and how we can make them more comfortable for ourselves.

Cue my top tips for your first smear test.

Ask for a female nurse

The majority of smear tests are carried out by female nurses or doctors anyway but just to put your mind at ease, it's always worth requesting either a female nurse or a doctor that you trust.

Book it at the right time

Something that can panic people is that they'll be on their period for their smear test. Although technically, a smear test can be conducted during this time, you're better off cancelling it and booking it for a few days after your period to save you the extra hassle and make your test easier to read.

Do your research

Something that really helped me was doing a bit of a research and understanding the process of a smear test so I knew what to expect. It only takes five minutes to read up what's involved and might make you feel more prepared.

Wear a skirt or dress

This is definitely my top tip! To save yourself the hassle of stripping off from the waist down and spending extra time in the treatment room when you really just want to be in and out in a flash, wear a skirt or dress! Then all you need to do is slip your knickers off and pop them back on again when it's all over. You'll also feel slightly less exposed as you're still covered past your hips.

Bring a chaperone

If having your mum or friend or whoever you need there will make you feel more comfortable then go for it. Normally, you're allowed to bring one chaperone in with you but you'll have to check that with your GP as that might not be the case with the current state of the world!

Ask for a smaller speculum

The speculum is a little plastic medical tool used in a smear test which is inserted into the vagina and opened so the nurse/doctor can see your cervix to collect a sample of cells from. The speculum comes in a range of sizes so if it would make you feel more comfortable, ask if it's possible for them to use a smaller one.

Relax, don't tense up

Once you're on the bed with your knees up and about to have the test, as hard as it may be, just relax! It's more likely to cause pain or take longer if you're tensing so just try to completely relax your muscles. You'll also find having a wee before you go in helps!

Bring a pad with you

Some women bleed after their smear test (don't worry, it's not a bad thing), so to make sure you're not caught off guard, bring a pad or pantyliner with you.

Remember this is their job

It's not unusual for a women to feel insecure, embarrassed or scared about their first smear test but trust me when I say, this is your nurse or doctor's job. They don't care whether you've shaved or not, they've probably seen thousands of vaginas before and they just want to collect your cells and do what needs to be done!

If you have your first cervical screening booked in soon then I really hope you've found this post handy. Honestly, it's just one of those things that sounds so much worse than it actually is!

Do you have any tips for someone's first smear test? What advice would you give?

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