Smear Test Anxiety
There are so many topics I could have chosen for these images. Perhaps how to have fun with fashion, how not to take yourself too seriously or even a post on suiting - but none are more important than one encouraging you or your loved one to make an appointment for a smear test.
It was in the news a couple of weeks ago that since reality star and Mum Jade Goody's tragic passing from cervical cancer in 2009, the number of people booking and taking the tests have dropped dramatically. During Jade's well publicised battle with the illness, there was an overwhelming uptake in people choosing to book in for their tests but the figures are now back down to their lowest in a decade.
If you can do two things today, I would love for you to:
a) Book in for your smear test and/or
b) Share this post to spread awareness and perhaps remind someone else that they are due to make an appointment too!
MAKE YOURSELF A PROMISE
We're all so busy and it's all too easy to put off making such an important appointment but I got my text from the NHS this week and although it admittedly took me a couple of days to pick up the phone, I've just done it. It took me all of a couple of minutes to check my diary, work out when I was free (and not on my period) and call my local doctor's surgery. I know there's a certain amount of anxiety around smear tests for lots of people and for a multitude of reasons too, but I promise you, you are strong enough to overcome them.
If you're feeling nervous about the appointment because you're not sure what it might entail, you're not alone. I was so apprehensive arriving to my first smear test but in hindsight, there was really nothing to worry about at all. The Doctors, Nurses and health professionals who will deal with you, complete these tests as part of their job every day of the week and I can bet that you will not be the most nervous patient they have dealt with. Similarly with feeling embarrassed, I know it's definitely easier said than done but there's truly nothing to be embarrassed about. However if you are embarrassed and don't feel like you can get past that feeling easily, then you can ask for a certain Nurse that you may be more relaxed around and you can even ask for someone to be in the examination room with you.
The best way I've seen a smear test described is uncomfortable and I think that describes it perfectly. Yes it isn't fun and I can think of a hundred places I'd rather be than making small talk in my Doctor's office but I know in the long run it's the right thing to do. Your Nurse will use a speculum to open your vagina and access your cervix. They will then use a small brush to take a sample of the cells in your cervix and then it's all over. Just 2-3 minutes out of your day but 2-3 minutes that is of the utmost importance. For some people the test can be painful but if this is the case, you're in exactly the right place to find out why that is and get to the bottom of it ASAP. For me personally, apart from the coldness of the speculum, I couldn't feel a thing. It's different for everyone.
Also, take the time to talk to the person completing your smear test and let them know how you feel. It's your test and you have every right to let them know if you're nervous or if it's your first time. Even if you just need a bit more information along the way communicate what you need and the process will be much easier for everyone. You can fully take control of your appointment and remember it will most likely only last 2-3 minutes if you have nothing out of the ordinary you would like to discuss with your health care professional.
Please make a promise to yourself this week and maybe even set a reminder on your phone while reading this post? Find out when you're due to have your smear test and if it's soon or even overdue, book yourself in!
FOR MORE INFORMATION
You can find more detailed information about smear tests and what to expect by clicking through to the following resources -
there's always someone who can help answer your questions:
If you have any experiences you'd like to share or any tips for anybody struggling to make their smear test appointment, please leave them below and perhaps we can encourage each other and honour Jade's legacy a decade on.