Before I go into this personal SMEAR test experience, I’d like to say that I 100% encourage you all to go for your check up. Despite what you are about to read, I will never discourage woman to go get checked for something that is so so important.
The reason behind this post, is that I’ve just watched a YouTube video by the lovely Kiera on her Smear experience. Whilst watching that video, it came to my attention that her experience was the complete opposite of mine, which made me think ‘wait, why wasn’t mine like that?‘. A lot of you on twitter said you wanted to hear about my experience, bad or good, as it still brings awareness to how important getting a cervical screening is, so here it is.
About this time of year 2 years ago, I was approaching my 26th birthday and I finally got the letter from my GP about having my smear test. Thinking about it, I probably should have had this letter a year earlier, seeing as the age requirement is 25 in the U.K, but I digress. Just like I imagine most woman are when they get this letter, I was filled with dread, anxiety and nervousness about what it might entail.
For some reason there is a really bad vibes around smear tests, probably because there is a lot of misconceptions about what they do or just lack of information really, but I definitely felt like I didn’t want to go. I also don’t have a mother or a grandmother in my life to educate me about these things, so obviously I didn’t have any kind of chat about it before, which probably didn’t help.
On the day of my appointment, I made sure that I wore a dress, with tights, so they were easy to take off and that I wasn’t exposing myself too much down there, this just made me feel a little bit more comfortable on the day. I also shaved, which, thinking about it, obviously didn’t matter but for some reason I just did. Whatever makes you feel comfortable!
When I arrived into the GP room, I was sat down and explained, very briefly, about what was going to happen. I think if i’m being honest, it was all quite rushed and I didn’t feel relaxed in the slightest. I was told to get up on the table, pop my clothes off and tuck my feet up as close to my body as I could and let my legs spread.
So, this is the first thing that differed hugely about watching the video I linked above, is that the lady didn’t explain anything to me about what she was doing. I was basically just told to spread eagle and relax. I wasn’t really told what she was doing, when she was going to touch me, or how long it was realistically going to take. It just sort of happened.
Of course it was uncomfortable and I tried my best to relax as much as possible but I have to be 100% honest with you, it hurt, a LOT. She also at one point started moving the instrument around inside me, for what I assume was to get a better angle and look around down there before taking the swab, but it hurt so much. It felt like the instrument was trying to burst out of my stomach, Alien style. She could see that I was tense and in pain, so she said she’d be as quick as she could. But if I remember correctly, at one point she left the little booth bit to go do something and just left me there with this thing inside of me.
After the ordeal was finally over and I could close my legs. She had informed me that because I was tense and tight down there, (not really sure what the right word to use is here?) but it had caused me to stretch a little and I guess tear a little? because I was bleeding. So she gave me some tissue to clean up with before she gave me a run down of when I’d get my results.
Honestly, I knew immediately that this wasn’t really how things normally went. I was in so much pain walking back to the car (Nick had waiting in the car park for me) and sitting down was tender and sore. I remember sitting in the car and Nick being ‘see I’m sure it wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be’ and just sitting there and crying.
The pain didn’t go away for at least a couple of days. It was tender to sit down and stand up, walking was a little painful sometimes too. It also stung like a bitch when I peed. It generally all round really wasn’t a great experience but over the next year or so is when the more serious problem started.
This is something I never thought I’d talk about openly, because it’s SO personal, but I feel it’s something we really really should talk about more openly. But because of this whole ordeal, I developed Vaginismus. This is when the vagina muscles close and tighten when penetration is attempted. I went from having a very normal and healthy sex life to being in excruciating pain and I could no longer insert tampons. It’s been really really difficult and hard over the past couple of years and I’m finally coming out of the other end.
It made me completely lose my confidence. It put a strain on Nick and I’s relationship, not due to the lack of sex, but almost the level of intimacy that comes with that. Its been really really hard and if anyone wants to talk about this or wants to ask (reasonable) questions about this, I am happy to talk about it with you. But I know 100% this happened because it came down to a bad experience during my smear test.
Thankfully, my test results came back as normal. However I’m due for another check up next year and I seriously have no idea what I’m going to do.
I guess what I want to leave this blog post with, is that despite my horrendous experience, you can and will get through it. It hasn’t been easy for me, but you will. I would like to re-enforce that my experience was certainly not the norm. However I would have benefited more from a nurse who spoke things through with me a little more, explained better what was going on and was all round a little more gentle after clearly recognizing that I was in pain and uncomfortable. I’m not sure if I made clear how much pain I was in, she might have stopped and it would have been over much quicker.
I encourage you all to make sure the nurse goes through things with you properly, clearly and slowly to make sure you are comfortable and understand everything that is going on. If for any reason you are in pain or uncomfortable please speak up. I’d like to say again that although this was a horrible experience, I do not regret one bit going for my check up, because it’s so important to get checked out!
If you have any questions, please feel free to talk to me about it in the comments or DM me on twitter if you’d like a more private chat. I went through my entire experience almost alone and I wish I had someone to talk about it with, so I’m here if you need me!