Monday, 13 November 2017

Your first smear test + why I regret not going sooner

Since opening up about my mental health on the blog earlier this year I've felt a certain shift in the pattern of my blogging; while still enjoying keeping up regular fashion content I also feel a prolonging need to voice and express issues and topics of significant importance that matter to me. One of those topics being going for your first cervical smear test. I put mine off for 9 whole months, during which my anxiety soared through the roof. Despite constantly thinking "I really should go", I pushed the appointment to the back of my mind and tried to pretend it wasn't there. I received the letter for my first smear test a few months before I was due to turn 25 in February 2015. The letter filled me with horror, worries of cancer and the whole invasion of privacy I felt giving me a nagging dread. I'd also heard from various people over the years that it's a pretty horrible experience which is off-putting enough in itself. 

It's hard not to shake images and concerns out of your mind, especially with something like your first smear test. I suffer from health anxiety (and have done since a young age), so my first smear appointment was something I'd long been worried about. I put my first cervical smear test off and off, even after receiving a few reminder letters. It was only when I booked in for an ear syringe in November 2015 that I decided to just bite the bullet and made appointment for my first smear test whilst at the doctors surgery. I felt physically sick leading up to the appointment, but knew it was vital that I went. 

DURING MY APPOINTMENT: 
  • I told the nurse it was my first smear test and I was a bit nervous 
  • It got a little bit painful as I was so tense so I spoke up, it then got better 
  • It was over within a few minutes, I couldn't believe how quick! 
I can't speak for all women and I know everyone's first smear test (let alone any smear test) will vary but speaking personally on behalf of my own experience, my appointment went so smoothly that my only regret was that I hadn't booked in for it as soon as I received my letter. The nurse was lovely, very kind and assuring. Although uncomfortable and slightly painful, the procedure was over as quickly as I hoped it would be. One of my biggest fears had been the invasion of privacy and the whole embarrassment I'd have to endure, but it soon hit me that it's nothing to be embarrassed about, this nurse was doing her job and this procedure is one we're lucky to have. It saves lives and it's so so important. You can read more about what to expect from a cervical screening test over on the NHS website here. I'd read up on so many people's experiences online, stressed about it and pushed it to the back of my mind for as long as I could but, at the end of the day, I did myself a favour by just biting the bullet and booking the appointment. 



QUICK REMINDERS FOR YOUR FIRST SMEAR TEST:
  • It's easier to wear a skirt or a dress (I wore leggings as it was so cold!) 
  • Book an appointment for when you're not on your period 
  • On the NHS website they advise to book an appt in the middle of your menstrual cycle 
  • Treat yourself to something nice afterwards, I think it's well deserved! 
  • Also on the NHS site, some information about cervical screening results 
I wish I could stress just how relieved I was afterwards, and if you're meaning to make an appointment for your smear test and have been putting it off, I'd definitely urge you to go. As someone who suffers from health anxiety and was crippled with fear beforehand, I hope this post can be of reassurance to someone in the same boat booking or anticipating their first smear test. It's so important and vital and as I mentioned, my only regret was not booking that first smear test sooner. It really is worth going for it. 

5 comments:

  1. I’m glad you were able to overcome the anxiety and go for your appointment. So many people don’t! Well done ☺️ X

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  2. I'm so proud of you for dealing with your anxiety head on! It's a really hard thing to do but once you challenge your fear, you do feel so much better afterwards! <3 <3 <3 xxx

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  3. I'm on the BC pill, so I've had to get this done since I was 18 when I first went on the pill. They used to do it once a year here, but then they changed it to once every three years. Where I go, they also check your breasts for lumps during the same pap smear visit, so I always have to get completely naked (with a little gown thing). I've never found the procedure itself to be painful or uncomfortable physically. I just hate having someone look at and check my parts because it's slightly embarrassing for me.

    http://surrealistique.com

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  4. This is such an important post! I cannot express I enough how much I can relate to delaying something for such a long time, especially when it's a health related thing. Regardless of how much I'd tell somebody else to go if it wasn't me! I also really enjoy your mix of posts - my blog seems to be going on a similar journey aha.

    //teandtwosugars.blogspot.com xx

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  5. Awh, love your blog layout!xx
    www.basicallyalice.blogspot.co.uk

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