Originally posted March 2019 and reposted in 2021.
This is a slightly different post this week. However, I have seen a lot of celebrity’s, youtubers and even more blog posts about this topic and I just think it is incredibly important. Therefore, I kind of wanted to talk a little about it and share my story about the importance of smear tests.
Definitely go check out the lovely post by Gillian here. She talks about her experience but also how important it is! Plus it is a lot more informative than mine! Also it is just as important for us to all open up and talk about it because I think that helps us feel more comfortable around the topic.
First of all I am from the UK so obviously things might be a lot different than other countries and also I am one person, everyone’s opinions and experiences are different. I just wanted to share mine and hopefully encourage others to get checked but share the importance of smear tests.
What is a Smear test?
Basically a ‘smear test’ or ‘cervical screening test’ is a test that checks your cervix and checks for any abnormalities and potentially can help prevent cancer. (You can read more about it on the NHS website)
Therefore, it is incredibly important for all women to go and get checked regularly, and just make sure everything is ok down there. In the UK normally you get a letter 6 months before you turn 25 to book an appointment. However, if you do have any issues/worries or concerns then please do go get checked out regardless.
I get that it is scary and I get that there is so many things that are running through our minds like “what if someone does find something wrong down there” or “what if It’s really painful” However, finding abnormalities does not always mean the worst. Also getting checked regularly means that these abnormalities can be dealt with quickly and more effectively. This is why I want to stress the importance of smear tests.
So bit of background about me. I am actually 25 years old at the moment, but I was 23 when you get to my story. Therefore, I have had two smear tests and other tests now.
*Just a warning I am going to be talking about some details and my experience of the test/before the test so stop reading here if you don’t want to carry on or if it might be triggering*
Basically back in 2019 just before my 23rd birthday I started experiencing some pain on my right side of my vagina. At the time at first it didn’t worry me because weirdly the day before (I worked with children at the time so all the furniture was small) I had walked into the dressing up unit for the children in my classroom and hit that part of my vagina on the unit- which was painful! Therefore, obviously at first I just thought I had bruised it or something.
However, a few days later the pain was horrible. So much so I was struggling to walk, sit down, lay down and just sleep- I have never experienced anything like it before. Also the right side of my vagina had now become a lump. Therefore, I was now starting to feel like something wasn’t right and yes I started to google (which is not always the best thing to do). I also started to hold a warm compress on the area because it just helped the pain for a bit, but I knew I needed to go get it checked.
I then went into work the next day and tried to get some time off for an appointment. However, when I went to the toilet something happened (sorry in advance if this is TMI) and I started bleeding a lot and there was other stuff coming out. Obviously I just broke down and was crying a LOT. My colleagues were amazing and gave me a pad, and my deputy manager got someone to cover me so I could go straight to urgent care.
My wonderful mum came and got me and yeah, I then went to urgent care they checked me over, and I then got referred to a hospital where they wanted me to see a gynaecologist (these are people that are specialised in lady parts). It was a very long wait, I had blood tests and a pregnancy test and then of course the smear test/slightly more advanced from a smear test apparently.
The gynaecologist was really nice and kept me calm, he spoke to me just to try and take my mind off of what was going on. It didn’t hurt me at all, and I hardly felt it to be honest. It was a little weird and uncomfortable as they say but it was absolutely fine. Of course in most cases when you do go to get your smear test it is because you have been invited and not a scare like my case.
Once I had been checked over I was informed that it was a cyst and it had burst, and I was also told that I had done pretty well to get through a week of working because the pain is horrific. Then I was put on anti-biotics and told that it should go down and to come back if I had any worries.
Overall thoughts / Importance of smear tests
If my story has not suggested the importance of smear tests then continue to read and research. One thing I will suggest is that you wear a skirt or dress because I didn’t have a choice and I was in my work trousers. This just made it a bit more awkward stripping off, whereas at least with a skirt you can just lift it up.
One thing to note is I have never been scared of getting a test done, because I know the importance of smear tests and I am ok with someone looking at my vagina. Obviously in my case I had mine a lot earlier, I had literally just turned 23 (great birthday present). But I am just glad I got it checked and I am fine. I just hope I can encourage people to go as well, because it is only 5-10 minutes and it can make a lot of difference. If you are nervous do talk about it to family or friends and do book it. Let’s encourage and help each other to go! We got this girls!
Smear test at 25
I am currently 25 (going to be 26 very soon) and I did receive my first letter back in January 2020. Of course I rang straight away because I think that is the best thing to do. This stops you from overthinking and you get that appointment booked straight away. However, I will say when I rang the first time they told me “you are too young”, which confused me slightly because on the letter it does say to book now. So I did wait a couple of weeks after that and then I rang again and had a different lady who booked me in straight away.
After the booking fun I had I actually had my smear test whilst I was still 24 and I had it two weeks before we went into the first lockdown in the UK (so March 2020), and my birthday is in June.
Of course it is natural to be nervous and feel scared. I personally went by myself because I find that is the best way for me. However, if you need to I do recommend asking a friend or family member to go with you for that extra support. Sometimes that helps and that is all you need.
Whilst I was there the nurse was lovely and knew it was my first time (in that situation) and so she asked questions about my life, and she also just went through what she is going to do. The procedure was so quick, and it felt like a tiny prick and then it was over.
I took with me a pad because afterwards you can experience some blood (well spotting). I just used the toilets there and placed it in to make me more comfortable. For me the rest of the day I was fine, I felt a bit of cramping for about an hour after I had the test done but that was about it.
I just want to end with how important it is for us to get these tests done. It is a tiny amount of time of our lives but it can make a huge difference in many ways. Just open up and talk with those around you and raise your concerns but most importantly just go. You will be absolutely fine and it will be over before you know it.
Have you had a smear test? What are you thoughts? Do you have a post sharing the importance of smear tests? Let’s encourage each other together and be positive and feel free to share your experience in the comments below!
Thanks for reading, this was a more personal post but I just hope it helps others out there, encourages you to go and stresses the importance of smear tests! 💚 You can catch up on my previous post here.
Gemma Jayne x