Hello guys and dolls and welcome back to my blog.
Every year, I write a post to raise awareness for the #SmearForSmear campaign run by Jo’s Trust which runs throughout Cervical Cancer Prevention week, which this years run from the 20th of January to the 26th.
#SmearForSmear is a campaign designed to highlight the importance of attending your smear tests by sharing a photo with your lipstick smeared / paint smeared / however you wanna do it and raising awareness on the importance of Smear tests and breaking down the stigma which surrounds HPV. Whilst I’ve shared posts about it already here on the blog and on my Instagram, I’d never actually had a smear test myself until last year.
For a little more information, here is a summary as to what is available to us here in the UK when it comes to Smear tests / cervical cancer screening taken from the BUPA website: ‘The NHS runs a cervical screening programme in the UK. It’s offered to all women aged between 25 and 64, every three or five years depending on your age bracket. If you’re registered with a GP, you’ll usually be invited to have a smear test once every three years, once you reach 50, you will be invited every five years.’
Obviously I can’t speak for other countries around the world so if you’re from outside of the UK then definitely do your own research and ensure you still attend your cervical cancer screening!
Here in the UK, it’s not until we are 25 that we get invited to our smear tests which thankfully, are free on the NHS. Here in the UK we are abundantly fortunate to have this service offered to us free of charge, and it’s one I can only hope and pray that we all take advantage of.
SMEAR TESTS SAVE LIVES.
SMEAR TESTS PREVENT CERVICAL CANCER.
Being that I just turned 25 at the beginning of this month, I was invited to attend my first ever smear test just a few months ago, around about September time last year. Typically, you get invited to attend your smear test just a few months before your 25th birthday.
My ‘invitation’ came in the form of a letter through the post which I think is amazing. It’s not something that I had to chase at all, I was invited to make an appointment for my smear test and I did. They really make it so easy for us, again, take advantage of this, please!
So let’s talk about my smear test experience, so for anyone who hasn’t been to one before, you can have a little idea of what to expect.
I definitely think this is a subject worth talking about with your friends and family members who have also experienced a smear test, as it really is so important that we are attending these.
SMEAR TESTS SAVE LIVES.
SMEAR TESTS PREVENT CERVICAL CANCER!
With my smear test, I had to cancel my original appointment and re-book due to circumstances.
I take the pill, which is a form of birth control and also a way to control periods, so I always know when I’m due on / period free. I had my smear test booked in for just a couple of days after I got back from New York, and being that I’d been travelling, in the few days beforehand I had messed up with my pill a little bit, and forgotten to take them regularly so my body was a little up and down meaning that by the time it came to my smear test, I had started to bleed a little.
It wasn’t heavy bleeding, not a usual period, more the type of bleeding you experience towards the end of your period (at least in my case), where it’s just a little trickle here and there. You know when you’re questioning ‘have I finished my period yet or not?’ that type of thing. Anyway, I had a busy day on the day of my smear test (okay, I mean, I woke up fairly late due to jet lag), so rather than rescheduling my appointment for another day, I just decided to meet my Nan for lunch, then attend my appointment as I was booked in for afterwards. Like I said, I wasn’t even 100% sure whether I was ‘on’ or not, it was one of those ones. Though I knew there was a little blood.
Anyway, enough blood talk, I did have a little google beforehand to make sure it should be okay, and I pretty much came to the opinion that it would be fine to attend my smear test even though I was bleeding a little. I obviously intended to speak to the nurse beforehand, just to make sure, and she said that being that it was just a little blood, it should be absolutely fine however, there could be a possibility that the results won’t be clear, if they couldn’t get a clear enough swab due to the blood getting in the way.
We went ahead with the Smear test under the impression that it should be fine, but if I had to re-book for another if the results didn’t come back clear, then I would.
When it came to the actual smear test, I was a little nervous. Obviously, I didn’t know what to expect, and everyone always says ‘oh it’s fine, it’s nothing’ which is true, but evidently, it’s still not the most pleasant of experiences however, it’s a must to be done.
It lasts all of what feels like a minute, you remember the nurse has done this hundreds of times before (unless it’s her first shift of course, LOL, just kidding), so there’s absolutely nothing to be shy or embarrassed about, when it comes to health, who the heck cares who sees your ‘private areas’? I’d rather be healthy than hidden, LOL!
During the procedure, my nurse claimed I was quiet. I was like ‘hun, I’m just saying affirmations in my head’. I can’t remember exactly, but I was probably meditating, or affirming, or just focusing on something other than what was going on down there to keep myself distracted. If I remember correctly, I was probably telling myself that it would all be over in a few minutes max, and before I knew it, I’d be back watching Netflix, spending time with my Nan, or doing whatever I was going to be getting up to that evening. I’d be chilling, it’s all good.
Smear test done in a flash, it was time for me to get my clothes back on and go. It felt like a relief, and I knew that after that first experience, I’d be absolutely okay for next time. Knowing what to expect for next time is the most comforting thing of all, you only fear the unknown, so now I know what a smear test is like, I feel totally happy getting another one when the time is right.
My nurse was lovely and chilled, and for the sake of a few short moments of your time (I genuinely can’t remember how long it took, which goes to show just how little it affected me), I really can not advocate for smear tests enough.
It makes sense to attend these appointments. It takes NO TIME at all. And I’m not going to say it isn’t uncomfortable, but for the sake of TWO SECONDS of discomfort in the aid of potentially SAVING YOUR LIFE, then it’s so worth it.
Once your smear test is done, it’s back to resuming normal life (duh), carrying on with your day as per until you wait for your results to come through. These arrive through post a few weeks after your test, and this is when you’ll find out whether you need further treatment due to any abnormal cells being found, or whether your results came back ‘normal’. If they come back normal, then the usual scenario is that you’d wait another three years until you receive your next invitation to attend another smear test.
Obviously, if the results come back as ‘abnormal’, then you will revisit your nurse / doctor to discuss further treatments and options, potentially getting any abnormal cells removed therefore REDUCING YOUR RISK OF CERVICAL CANCER / PREVENTING CERVICAL CANCER.
SMEAR TESTS SAVE LIVES.
SMEAR TESTS PREVENT CERVICAL CANCER!
Thankfully, my results came back as ‘normal’ (so my blood was obviously not a problem then, aye), and of course I am so grateful for good health, and the blessings of this result. Ultimately however, I am so thankful that this service is provided through the NHS, and that we who have a cervix are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend our smear tests at no cost, therefore helping to prevent cervical cancer.
Of course, attending your smear test for the first time (or any time), can feel a little scary, but I promise when it comes to looking after yourself and your health, it’s one million percent worth those short few moments of your time. Even if it’s just to put your mind at rest that you’re all okay down there, in the long term, you’ll be thankful.
I also took my Nan with me to my Smear test, and whilst she didn’t actually come into the nurses room with me, it was nice of her to be there waiting outside for me in the waiting area. If it helps, perhaps have someone to meet you afterwards or wait outside for you. Have something to look forward to after the test, even if it’s just a yummy bowl of ice cream or a cinema date, if it makes you feel good and brings you joy, look forward to it. You can focus on that yummy cookie dough you’re going to eat whilst having the test, it’ll be over in no time.
Whilst I was bleeding a little when I had my smear test, it is advised that you don’t attend whilst on your period, especially if it’s during heavier periods. Luckily I was only bleeding a little, but in future, I’ll be making sure to only attend when I’m definitely not bleeding!
For more information and support be sure to visit Jostrust where you will find the answers to frequently asked questions, information, support and more.
Lots of love,