Never have I felt like more of an adult than when my letter from the doctors arrived informing me I was ‘of age’. I hadn’t even had my birthday but the time had finally arrived for me start my smear test journey. Not exactly as good as turning 11 and plodding off to Hogwarts, but que sera sera.
I booked my appointment with the nurse for the middle of my cycle (the best time so they say) and thought nothing more of it. Flash forward to me sitting in the waiting room the morning of and oh ma gad, the sweating begins.
What if I’m nervous and tense up? What if the equipment is too big and scary? Oh Jesus what kind of situation have I left down there? What if the nurse is disgusted and whispers about me to her nurse friends?
Mid freak out my name was called and I slowly creeped into the examining room. My nurse introduced herself and was clearly trying to put me at ease, bless her. She told me to forget everything I had heard before about the test, and actually congratulated me on coming in as not many young women come to their first invitation.
We had a little chat and then the phrase ‘right, if you’d like to pop your underwear off and lay on the bed’ was thrown out there. And the weirdness set in. I had a skirt on luckily so there was no awkwardly sitting naked from the waist down, but once I laid on the bed all bets were off.
‘Now if you bring your feet onto the bed, knees up and just let your legs fall to the sides’. There was absolutely no hiding my dignity now as I laid there like a humiliated frog, and then the spotlight was moved and shone right … there. And my nurse the sweetie was trying to make small talk with me, asking what I had got up to at the weekend and whatnot. All the while knowing she was about to put the plastic cone in my hoo-hah.
The plastic cone is what they use to ‘open you up’ as it were, to get a swab in there and collect a decent sample from your cervix. As the swab will pick up all cells in there and detect whether they’re; normal (which we want) or abnormal (the cells that can potentially turn cancerous).
The cone itself being put in your lady business wasn’t a day at the beach let’s put it that way. It was slightly uncomfortable, a little tender but was over in less than 1 minute. And that’s it. That’s the entire test. I spent longer in the waiting room than actually having it done.
Once it was over and I swiftly and discretely whipped my knickers back on, all that was left to do is wait for the results in around 3 weeks time via the post. For 5 minutes of awkwardness I don’t have to be tested again for 3 years, I’ve taken my health into my own hands and it’s so important to spread awareness.
Since 2016 there have been 854 deaths due to cervical cancer, with symptoms such as; bleeding after sex or in between periods, lower back or pelvis pain. All of which are common side effects of a woman’s monthly cycle, and thus go unnoticed. 99.8% of cases are actually completely preventable.
If you are of age and have been avoiding going for whatever reason, this is your formal kick up the butt to book an appointment. As long as you have your health, everything else is a bonus. Make sure for the sake of 5 minutes of awkwardness you’re treating yourself and your body with the respect it deserves.