Ladies, you should have noticed a lot of coverage recently highlighting the need to book in for a cervical screening test (in old school money this was referred to as a smear test). This is because in January is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week. As it would happen, my appointment was this week. So I thought I would share my own experience to re-assure you just how simple, quick and pain-free it is.
It is the first one I have had in 3 years and due to the time lapse it is easy to make it in to something worse than it is. Let’s face it, no one particularly likes being prodded in that area, even those of us that have given birth (which is far more intrusive and painful but we still put ourselves through it).
My appointment was at 3.10pm. I arrived promptly and was seen on time. Before the screening procedure took place I was asked the following routine questions:
- Was I sexually active?
- Did I have any bleeding after sex?
- Did I have any spotting?
- Were my periods regular?
- Was there anything unusual about them?
- Had I had any abnormal smears previously?
- Was I on any hormone treatment?
- Did I have an implant or was I on any other contraception?
- Could I be pregnant?
After answering the questions I was then asked to step behind the curtain and remove my clothing from the waist down.
Once ready, the nurse rubbed lubricant on to a speculum – which is shaped like a test tube – and inserted it up as far as my cervix. She then collected some cells by inserting a small brush up through the speculum. The only sensation I had at this point was the coldness from the lubricant and some slight discomfort from the speculum. The discomfort is due to a small amount of pressure on the cervix but it only lasts for as long as the test takes place. For me this was less than a minute. To be honest even using the word “discomfort” is over-playing it. The nurse removed the speculum and I got dressed again.
And that was it, all done. I was back in the car by 3:20pm. Ready to crack on with the rest of the day.
Trust me there is nothing to fear and it is so important to have check-ups. If this helps prevent the spread of cancer then I’m all for having a cervical screening test on a regular basis.
For more information on cervical screening please visit: www.jostrust.org.uk or search on social media using the hashtag #SmearForSmear
How frequently should you have one?
You should receive a reminder from your GP/Health Authority every 3 years. If you are over 50 then it is usually a reminder every 5 years. Being screened regularly means that changes to the cervical cells can be detected and acted upon.
What is it checking for?
It is test to check the health of the cervical cells. Early detection of any abnormalities in the cell structure could prevent cancer.
What is HPV?
HPV is short for Human Papilloma Virus. Changes in the cervical cells are caused by the presence of this virus.
How long does it take?
As my post above says, I was in and out in less than 10 minutes. The procedure itself took all of 2 minutes from start to finish.
When do I get my results?
My surgery has advised that it will take 2 weeks to get my results.