With 1 in 3 women in the UK not taking up the invite for their cervical screening check, I’m striving to help women make informed decisions about their health. I’ve set out to share a variety of experiences of the cervical screening process – from invitation to after-party. Thank you to the women who’ve told me their stories; everything I share in this series is with expressed consent and I’ve changed names where desired.
I’m trying to think why I kept putting it off… I built up the fear in my head and made excuses to myself. There was the worry of the awkwardness of someone seeing my vagina with my legs being open, the nurse sticking something inside, the fear it would hurt and then waiting for the results. When I first received the letter, I hid it and chucked the other ones straight away. I felt scared and intimidated about a stranger seeing my downstairs area. Also, I hadn’t had sex in a while and had this weird feeling about a nurse being the first person to see me.
I had my first smear test just after my 28th birthday. I think I went because I had started having sex again, but mainly because of talking about with my friend in a nonchalant way. She didn’t so much as tell me off, but did say I should go. My friend didn’t have any bad, cancerous cells, but she has a family history of cancer and she was talking to me about it so I said I would go.
It sounds silly, but right now, we’re in Covid-times. I thought: I’m going to be in a mask, so will the nurse, and she can only see my eyes. I was an absolute girl about it and made sure I had a wax.
The nurse was the jolliest person and made loads of funny comments whilst looking at my cervix. I remember her saying, “it’s a funny job I do, isn’t it?” Her job is to look in my vagina…
It wasn’t uncomfortable. I had lots of fear of it hurting but I felt nothing at all – not a scratch.
I treated myself to cake afterwards.
A friend had bad results and I was relieved my results were fine. But my friend’s experience did show me what could have been, so going for the test gave me peace of mind; not going would have made me more worried.
As soon as the next letter comes through the door, I’ll definitely book the appointment as soon as possible. There’s a lot of things that are worse than having a smear test.