I had my first Cervical Screening done today so I just wanted to do a teeny tiny post to let anyone who is nervous about theirs, know that is is a breeze.
For anyone confused on what a cervical screening is or in their country it’s called something else, cervical screening is a quick but vital test where the cells in your cervix get checked to see if they are healthy. This test can help spot changing cells before they develop in to cancer. This test can also check for HPV (Human Papillomavirus), which is a very common group of viruses (most women will have it in their lifetime) but it can cause some cells to turn cancerous.
The appointment usually lasts about 10 minutes and the test literally only took about 1 minute for me. The nurse/doctor will double check all your details are correct (like name, address and date of birth), she/he will run through some questions with you about birth control, when your last period ended and if you have any problems during of after having sex – it’s a very casual conversation, don’t worry!
The nurse/doctor will then ask you to undress from the waist down and lie on the bed with a sheet over your bottom half. Before the actual test she asked if I wanted to know what will happen before the test starts which was very reassuring and made me less nervous. She showed me the Speculum and how far it will go in, and showed me the soft brush that is used to gather the cells needed.
The nurse/doctor will then ask you to lie back with your knees bend and apart from each other, if you need to change position during the test please do not hesitate to ask, they are very understanding. They then very gently insert the speculum and open it so they can see your cervix, then they use the soft brush and insert it through the speculum and twirl the brush around a few times to gather many cells. After the cells are collected the nurse/doctor will put the cells in the sample cup and close and take out the speculum. If you are feeling uncomfortable or nervous the nurse/doctor can take out the speculum straight away before putting the cells in the cup. They then leave you to get changed again and give you a pad and some tissue in case you have some light spotting of blood (this is totally normal).
My nurse sat me down after just so I could relax for a few minutes after the test and told me that i should receive a letter with my results within 2 weeks. The nurse also advised on how and when is the best time to check my breasts for changes/lumps/bumps which was super helpful as I wasn’t entirely sure of the best way until now! Once I felt good to go, my nurse showed me out of the door and I was on my merry way.
I was soooo nervous before this test but I honestly found the whole thing so easy, and such a relief to have got it done. It wasn’t embarrassing as I thought it would be and the nurse is so nice and even had a joke with me about how she’s seen so many vaginas that they all pretty much blur in to one now.. what a legend. Pain wise, it was a little uncomfortable and a bit of a weird feeling but not painful at all. I feel a slight ache now after the test from the speculum but it’s barely noticeable, if you are worried you can always get a smaller one or some lube be put on the normal sized one. You can always bring someone with you in to the test if you are worried and the nurse/doctor will show you good breathing techniques if you need them.
Currently cervical screening is at an all time low with 1 in 3 women aged 25 to 29 are missing a screening, also 1 in 4 women above age 29 are missing theirs too. 35% of all women researched reported being embarrassed to attend because of their body shape and 34% had concerns over the appearance of the vulva. Can I just say, the nurses/doctors have seen vaginas of all shapes, colours, hair.. yours will not stick out in their mind.
With more than 3,200 women being diagnosed with cervical cancer every year in the UK, the test is more important than ever and could save thousands of lives by one, easy 10 minute test. Please book an appointment when you receive your invite letter, it could save your life.
Please check out the NHS website if you still have questions 🙂