I saw an article in the Telegraph which said that the number of women booking in for their first Smear Test has hit an all time low because of embarrassment. Which is a bit scary. It was Cervical Cancer Awareness week a few weeks ago so I thought this was something that would be worth discussing here after-all it is important.
A Smear test is there to detect abnormal cells and the removal of these cells can prevent cancer, I haven’t always been an advocate for the Smear. I, like many women kept missing appointments and now that it is over there is a question swimming in my head: what was I waiting for?
I actually had my first Smear test quite a few years late, it’s one of those things that I just put off, I received the letters and forgot to ring the GP, then I rang the GP and forgot about the appointments and I just kept thinking “I’ll do it later” until I never did. In 2018 I kept seeing people talking about it online and I was even being haunted by posters on the back of the toilet door at work. Of course the only thing that was really standing in between me and a free test which is designed solely to benefit me, was me. So I booked one.
I was nervous because I thought the nurse would notice my D.O.B and ask why I am so late, I thought she may look at me with judgemental eyes. I was nervous because I was sure it was going to be excruciatingly painful and I was nervous because the thought of opening my legs on a weekday morning for a stranger to look at and poke around in my bits felt mortifying.
But you know what? It really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Like. Not. At. All.
Firstly the nurse has seen it all before, they are so casual about the entire thing that I found myself having a chat whilst spread-eagle on the bed. Now I know that Smear tests aren’t easy for everyone and I am not belittling the fact that the actual examination itself is pretty uncomfortable and for some women it can even be painful, but what I am saying is that it lasts mere seconds. I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t tell you that.
As I said earlier; it was recently Cervical Cancer Awareness week (which is how I stumbled across the article that inspired me to chat about my Smear in the first place) and the fact that cervical cancer in under 35 year olds has increased 35% scared me more than you can know. I decided to not let the fear of an examination that takes seconds let me become one of the 1 MILLION WOMEN who don’t show up to their Smear test.
I don’t wanna get all “factual” on you and bore you with percentages and statistics but they are shocking because this test that doesn’t seem like a big deal and what initially feels like a bit of a burden all of a sudden becomes very urgent when you read those numbers. I know life gets in the way and a lot of us are booked and busier than ever but this is a priority and when I realised this I suddenly felt very stupid for not having been and I also felt a little scared at the fact that my original Smear was due so long ago. Prevention only works if you do it before anything is wrong.
I wasn’t embarrassed enough not to go, I went, I did it, it’s over and done with and I can move on until it is time to book another appointment.
Contact your GP. Book YOUR Smear test and lets continue the conversation and normalise it because the consequences don’t bare thinking about.