Health & Wellbeing Reviews

My first smear test experience

At approximately 24 and a half years old, I received the letter in the post that I had been dreading, ever since I knew what a smear test was. The fact that the letter used words like “invited” didn’t make it any more cutesy or appealing. The fact of the matter was, I was at the age where a doctor needed me to spread my legs on a table and look into my fanny. There’s no beating around the bush (pun intended) and no sugar coating it really. It was time for my very first smear test. 

I suffer tremendously with doctors appointments and medical “things” as it is. I also get anxious when going somewhere new or doing something I’ve never done before. So the prospect of having a smear test was one that sometimes, I couldn’t even bare thinking about for it would send me into a state of panic. I wanted to share my experience of the smear test today and also my experience of having medical examinations with anxiety. There are so many women who won’t go to their smear tests because they’re scared. And I get it. I really bloody get it. But it is such an important, worth-while test, I would personally say it’s worth the stress. Now, onto my story!

My personal experience of my first smear test

Okay, so let’s skim past the boring stuff. I booked my appointment easily over the phone with the family planning doctor in my surgery. But you can see your nurse for your test, too. I told the receptionist I was scared so she wrote on my notes, “might not be brave enough to get it done today“. Which well and truly made me feel like the most pathetic wimp on the planet.

I got to the doctors and despite being almost 25 at the time, my mum came with me. Made sure I had my Bach’s Rescue Remedy Spray and a cold bottle of water with me to calm me down, too. I wore a skirt as that makes the process a lot quicker and easier.

I was called into the room and first of all, my doctor looked so much like a slightly older version of Sarah Millican and was so bloody lovely that I think that’s what calmed my nerves so much. I found that I was actually more nervous about the whole thing in the morning – my appointment was at 5 – than I was siting in the waiting room. Strange.

So I finally got over how much I wanted to shout “Dairy Millican!” at her and she asked me if I was still on the pill, which I am and then demonstrated what the brush was going to do (a soft and gentle twirl around the base of the cervix) and showed me the brush itself. She let me feel it and honestly, it’s the softest plastic ever. And small. So any fears of a huge, metal scalpel about to claw away at my insides were gone.

She asked if I had any questions and I mentioned I was worried about the speculum hurting and if she was able to use a smaller one (they have smaller ones on hand – make sure you ask if you feel this would benefit you!) and she told me she always uses the small one anyway. Which was a relief.

She then let me get myself undressed and told me I could leave my skirt on and get comfy on the table. At this point she came back into the little side room armed with the speculum and I actually said, “is that it?!” The smaller one was a lot smaller than I expected so that put me right at ease. She wet it with cold water to make the um… entrance a little easier but she told me water never affects results so that’s all hunky dory.

At this point she asks me what I do so I start rambling on about books and blogging and blog tours until I realise she’s down at my bits putting the speculum in. It felt like a bit of a struggle at first – understandably because I’m not going to be naturally lubricated up and ready for action at a smear test but in it went. It was uncomfortable – especially being opened. But once it was actually open and staying open, it was fine. I just acclimatised to the uncomfortableness.

The worst part for me was the brush. It didn’t hurt at all; it wasn’t really even uncomfortable. I could barely feel it but it made me cringe. It was a weird, cringy feeling. She said I may feel some period type cramps when the brushing was being done but honestly, I didn’t notice any through my gritted teeth. However the “brushing” literally lasted 7 seconds then the brush was out, the speculum was out (came out a lot easier than it went in lemme tell you) and she said it was done.

She let me get myself dressed and finished off the appointment telling me I’ll get results in the post and that I’m free to leave. She also gave me another 6 months prescription if my pill whilst I was there. I was pleasantly surprised that I got no after effects and I came out the doctors completely elated and proud of myself for getting it done. And scene.

Tips and advice for first timers who are nervous:

  • You can take someone in with you, if it will make you feel better
  • Wear a skirt – even if it’s cold out. It makes access so much easier.
  • You CAN ask for a smaller speculum. They do provide them!
  • Do not research and read horror stories before hand. They don’t help and they’re irrelevant. This is your experience.
  • Tell your doctor/nurse if you’re nervous. Even tell the receptionist over the phone and like with me, they may be able to make a note on your file so the doctor/nurse is prepared for the fact that you’ll be nervous before you even get there.
  • Have a little downstairs wash before you go, just for common decency. But you don’t have to shave or be worried about what it looks like down there. Your doctor will have seen it all before.
  • Bleeding or stomach cramps after the test is completely normal! Don’t freak out if you get either/or.
  • Remember that the test is NOT looking for cancer!
  • Consider it a form of self care; like getting your hair or nails done. It’s an important thing you should do to take care of yourself; your future self might thank you for it. Plus… it’s free! Take advantage of that privilege that some women do not have.

I really hope this post helped anyone out there who s nervous about their first smear test. If it did, do let me know! You can also find me on Twitter and have a chat if you want to talk further, my DM’s are always open! If you’ve had yours, let me know below and tell me about your experience! Any extra advice?

Jenny in Neverland

Twenty-something lifestyle blogger from Essex. Book lover, Slytherin, organisational wizard and enjoys Motorsport, Disney and Yoga.

85 Comments

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  7. I received my letter recently and am really nervous but at the same time understand how important it is. I totally agree with not watching horror stories, I was watching people talk about their experience on youtube and got onto some more of the less pleasant ones. Reading your post has put me at ease, I just want to get it over and done it with now

    Hayley | hayleyxmartin

    1. Awh I don’t blame you! Honestly it’s not that bad but it’s so important so for 1 minute of discomfort it’s well worth it xxx

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  11. I’m so glad more people are opening up and talking about their smear test experiences. It’s such a scary though, especially when it’s your first time and you don’t know what to expect! The more we talk about it, hopefully the more people will go and get themselves checked. It could save their life.

    1. Absolutely Aimee, it seems irresponsible to not get one especially when the service is free!

  12. Fantastic post, Jenny! Having seen a few of your tweets mentioning how nervous you were about going, I’m so glad you did. I’m awaiting my 2nd which isn’t until next year (i think) and already beginning to feel a bit nervous but blog posts like this are so important I think. It allows people who haven’t been yet a little insight into what to expect because I think, the unknown is what makes it that bit more unnerving!

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience.
    Jess x

    1. Oh absolutely I agree, it’s the not knowing which makes it worse for sure! But of course if you haven’t been, you have nothing to even compare it to. But for the most part, it’s really not as bad as people make it up to be in their head (: xx

  13. Fantastic post!! I remember going for my first smear test and being petrified. Like you o had a really lovely nurse do mine and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I find it gets so much easier each time I go and it is really important. Really enjoyed reading your post! Xx

    1. That’s good to hear! I mean, I’m not looking forward to my next one but at least now I know what to expect and if I can have the same lovely doctor again as before, that’ll ease the nerves loads too (: xx

  14. I’ve just found out that this is a Thing in the U.K. — here in the States, your OB-GYN will do them but you don’t get a letter or any sort of official notice. I’ve been having them since I was like 17 and honestly I’ve gotten quite used to it by now. Glad you went through with it!! And how clever of the receptionist to write those notes, so you’d be spurred on to bravery!

    xx
    Emily
    http://www.emilyhallock.blogspot.com

    1. I can’t believe how smear tests are dealt with in the US. It’s SO much better; I don’t know why we have them so much later and it makes so much sense to have them from 17/18 and just including them as a normal part of your care?!

  15. Hi, thank you for sharing your very personal experience, hopefully it will reassure other anxious ladies out there and give them the confidence to go and get that smear done.

    1. That’s what I’m hoping. It pains me to see people say they’re not going just because they’re nervous or because they don’t fancy going for one.

  16. This is really important, well done you for helping us ladies feel a lot better about it 🙂 I’ve had mine and it was completely fine. I get nervous about the doctors at the best of time, but the nurse was lovely and I barely felt a thing! 10/10 would recommend 😛 seriously though, anything that encourages ladies to get their smear test done is a really good thing, so thank you for this post 🙂

    1. I’m exactly the same as you; I hate doctors appointments anyway!

  17. OMG I love how detailed this is, thank you! I am 23 and I’ve been putting off my appointment for soooo long. Getting to know someone’s experience really helps and the extra tips too! I’m very anxious and just the thought of it freaks me out but it’s nice to know I wasn’t the only one.

    1. Where are you living, if you don’t mind me asking? Obviously in England, the age is 25 but you mentioned you’re 23 so that’s why I’m wondering! If you’re due, please don’t put it off. Get it out of the way (: xx

  18. I’m a long way off (years) from having a smear test, but I have already been thinking it’ll be awful so this has really set my mind at ease for when the time does come. Glad it went much better than you’d expected x

    1. Don’t worry about it yet! You’ll be fine when the time comes (: xx

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