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To be absolutely terrified of smear tests

(27 Posts)
AnneNonimous Fri 04-Jan-13 16:29:16

And internal examinations in general?

I am 21 and have never had a smear test - I am not sure when I'm meant to have one or how often, last I heard you have one at 24?

I know I should have one, I know they are important and can be life saving but I am just so scared. Someone just mentioning them makes me feel tense and anxious and I am crying writing this just thinking about having one.

What the hell do I do about this?

AnneNonimous Fri 04-Jan-13 16:37:48



CloudsAndTrees Fri 04-Jan-13 16:39:44

Go to your doctor and tell them how you are feeling about it. I think you might be right in that you don't have to have them until you are 24 nowadays, but your doctor will know. It might be worth ringing your surgery to check first, as there's no point wasting an appointment or stressing yourself if you don't have to worry about it for another three years.

But if you do have to have one, it's definitely worth speaking to your doctor. They might prescribe some Valium or something. My friend gets it for when she has to fly because she is petrified, so if you can get it for something frivolous like a holiday, they may well be able to do the same for something essential.

CoolaYuleA Fri 04-Jan-13 16:41:34

YANBU - lots of people are terrified of smear tests. At least you are thinking about this now and aware that you need to do something about it.

I have had lots of smear tests as my results are regular abnormal, I've also had a few colposcopies. I also had maaaaany internal exams and internal scans as part of my fertility treatment. I started off loathing them, but after having so many it's more normal than going to the dentist - I certainly have more internals than dentals

A smear isn't the most pleasant of things, but it's not a "bad" experience. Over the last few years many changes have been made to the equipment and it's a LOT more comfortable and the nurses do them day in day out. Dignity is preserved and it's pretty quick too.

As you are aware it's massively important - a very good friend of mine was terrified and no matter what I said she couldn't face having a smear. My beautiful, vital, happy friend died of cervical cancer aged 34. The same age I am now. She went through a lot worse treatments attempting to treat the cancer than the smears and early intervention treatment which could have saved her life.

Please speak to your practice nurse in the first instance, tell them how you feel, ask them to talk you through the procedure and if necessary seek further support. There are people who can help you overcome this fear.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Fri 04-Jan-13 16:46:26

OK people will come on and say "They're nothing to worry about. The staff do them all the time"

That's true but it won't help you.
I've have 2 babies and I still feel bilious at the thought of them. My letter sat in the diary for over a year til I made the appointment.
(My excuse is, I had to try to work out 'midway' between cycles. Mine are very irregular)

I almost left the surgery when I had to wait, the Nurse was running 25 minutes late.

I always ask for a towel to go across my lap.
wear a skirt or something easy to get off and on.

If it helps you, read up on exactly what they do.
Tell them you are nervous. Book extra time.
Like dentists they are used to nervous patients, but some are better with dealing with nervous patients.

AnneNonimous Fri 04-Jan-13 16:50:29

Thankyou all for the help - I should definitely talk to my doctor.

I feel that this is more than just being nervous, I am completely terrified. It makes me feel ill just mentioning it.

HumphreyCobbler Fri 04-Jan-13 16:54:13

I have overcome a severe phobia of smear tests. It was terrible. I know how you feel.

I had counselling from an excellent doctor that enabled me to have the test. After three years I was due another test and they gave me valium and it worked very well indeed.

I DO understand your fear. But talk to your doctor about it and they will help you.

TheProvincialLady Fri 04-Jan-13 16:54:41

I had my first smear in 6 years last week because I was terrified and crying like you. My GP mentioned that I was overdue a smear at an appointment for something unrelated (tomsilitis!) and I started crying. I felt such a fool, but he was great. He booked me in there and then for a double appointment, prescribed me some diazepam and said he would do it himself. In the end I decided not to take the sedative and it was ok. I'll never love having them done but it was ok. Do speak to your GP - mine said it was very common to react like us.

meddie Fri 04-Jan-13 16:55:58

I,m exactly the same Anne, I put mine off and put mine off and in the end just bit the bullet and went for it. The practise nurse was lovely and it was over and done with within a minute. I dont know why I got myself so worked up about it, but you cant help what you are afraid of. If you have a practise nurse talk to her about it, she may be able to put your mind at rest, and hopefully she will be as lovely as the one who helped me.

I,m a nurse, I should know better, It was 21 years from my last smear slaps own wrist at her stupidity

AnneNonimous Fri 04-Jan-13 16:56:27

Very well done provincial and Humphrey for getting through it!

Feeling a bit more optimistic knowing that there may be alternative solutions (like drugging me up!)

AliceWChild Fri 04-Jan-13 16:56:30

You're totally not alone. I felt like this. Since having a baby it's perhaps a little less acute.

I spoke cried to Dr. They booked me in for a double appointment with nurse they knew would be sympathetic just to chat about it. Then the same nurse booked me in, again for a double, to actually do it. She reassured me I could stop at any time etc. FWIW they are good at respecting you and recognising the issue. Just in case future stuff plays on your mind, I've recently been seeing gynecology and they are hugely respectful and aware of how unpleasant it can be. After inspecting all over the place, they left the room so I could get dressed with privacy. Seems silly after what they've just seen, but it really made a difference. So they do realise, and do try to make it less bad for you.

Plumpcious Fri 04-Jan-13 16:58:14

What exactly are you scared of? The test itself (fear? embarrassment?) or the possibility that it might reveal something medically wrong?

If you're having a strong negative reaction just thinking about it, then it sounds more like a phobia rather than a rational fear.

perceptionreality Fri 04-Jan-13 16:59:49

YANBU - some people do find them painful. I am lucky - I've had about 4 and have never felt a thing, honestly. I would definitely go and talk to your doctor. Can you ask friends for a recommendation of a nurse who does it well? I don't think you need to have one until 25 now.

AnneNonimous Fri 04-Jan-13 17:04:52

Plump it's definitely not embarrassment I had no problem giving birth naked with bum and fanjo in everyone's face! But when the midwife had to examine else I kicked and screamed and hyperventilated til they gave me gas and air to calm me down.

It's the actual examination that terrifies me. The pain and invasiveness of it.

DozyDuck Fri 04-Jan-13 17:20:14

I tried to book mine the other day, and was very happy when they told me surgery only starts at 2 (have to leave to pick DS up from special school at this time)

So I said 'oh we'll there's nothing I can do about it, DS comes first' and thought I was off the hook.

Oh no! They rang me offering all sorts of alternative appointments 30 minutes later with a lecture about how important it is to go.

Gutted. sad

DozyDuck Fri 04-Jan-13 17:21:37

Oh and I have only just got my first letter for my frost smear and I am almost 25 smile you have got some time yet

Cantbelieveitsnotbutter Fri 04-Jan-13 17:31:10

I had my first one at 18 and a virgin!! Wasn't pleasant. But now they are a million times better.
Tell the nurse your worried, she'll be gentle xx
As for this age 24 thing. Rediculous!

brighthair Fri 04-Jan-13 17:32:00

Ok. I went for one and struggled. So the next one I told her how scared I was, I asked for the smallest speculum as well. I was literally 10 mins in there and only probably 20/30 seconds was the exam
I couldn't feel the speculum (it was tiny) and the swab bit was like a cotton bud (just longer)
I had some spotting after which surprised me because I honestly didn't feel anything and was so relieved how easy it was
Sometimes they can let you insert the speculum yourself? If that makes you feel more in control
Hope this helps (28 btw and no DC)

hatgirl Fri 04-Jan-13 17:55:56

I went age 24 as I had a reason to believe that there may be something actually wrong with me that needed checking out - but it took about 18 months of there being something wrong before I plucked up the courage to go! Fortunately they found nothing they were concerned about, but I haven't been back since. I think if the fear of there actually being something wrong with me hadn't been there I would have never booked an appointment to this day.

It isn't pleasant but it's also not as bad as you think it is going to be and the important thing to remember that a few minutes of mild (or no) pain and a little bit of embarrassment are a good pay off for, you know, not dying of cervical cancer or something. Now that I have done it once I wouldn't be as bothered about having to do it again (but not until they ask me to grin).

I wore a skirt so I wasn't having to drop my trousers as it were, you get given privacy to get changed and arrange yourself as you wish on the examining bed with a modesty sheet over the top before they come in. They really do try and make it as un-embarrassing as possible for you. Just got to shut your eyes and think of england as it were blush

OTheYuleManatee Fri 04-Jan-13 17:58:39

YABU but you know that. I feel for you, as I really hate the idea of having someone poke around in my fanny as well. I have been known to ignore those doctor letters for years sometimes but have recently forced myself to get a grip.

Really it's nowhere near as freaky as I always imagine it's going to be, and they do their best to make it as quick and painless as possible. Plus cervical cancer is no laughing matter, so it's in your interests to get tested.

DiamondDoris Fri 04-Jan-13 18:23:16

I'm a year late for my smear test... must get it done. They are not fun but I can understand your fear - I was scared the first time - in fact I couldn't relax and the nurse gave up in the end! That was about 26 years ago and they are a doddle now. They don't hurt in the slightest if you relax - they tell you how to lie so it won't be uncomfortable - and are over in seconds. You'll feel a great sense of achievement once it's over. Yes ask for some valium!

Helltotheno Fri 04-Jan-13 19:03:19

They don't hurt in the slightest if you relax

Yeah but that's fundamentally the problem isn't it, the inability to relax for whatever reason. I can't bear them either, though do get them done. Also I've found the people doing them very intolerant in general, especially when it's obvious you're not a 17-year-old virgin ...

As for a colposcopy, I think I'd demand a local anaesthetic for that tbh!

DrCoconut Fri 04-Jan-13 19:06:30

I've never had a problem in the past but next week am due my first post DS2 birth smear. I had a major episiotomy, tear and stitches and the thought of being poked around scares me a bit. But I will go, my mum is here today because her smear picked up a serious abnormality before it was too late. I second what people are saying about how good the staff are, at least in my experience. They know it's not nice and try to make it OK for you. It maybe sounds naff but can you/a family member plan a little treat for yourself after?

Perriwinkle Fri 04-Jan-13 19:15:18

If you are not terrified to have sex or give birth there is no reason you should fear a smear test. The test will certainly not involve any more "pain", discomfort or humiliation in terms of how invasive it all is than either experience.

The tests I have are always carried out by a nurse practitioner who chats away while she does it. They seem to have done away with the cold, stainless steel speculums these days and they're all plastic and disposable now. It really only takes a few moments to do the test.

Really, don't worry. I'm sure if you tell whoever is doing the test that you're really nervous they'll do all they can to put your mind and rest. And you'll feel great once you've had it done that you've overcome your fear and can tick it off the list for another 3 years. And if test flags anything up you can get it sorted as soon as possible.

BigShinyBaubles Fri 04-Jan-13 19:18:22

Please don't put off having your smear that goes out to everyone
I didn't go for 10 years and I only went when Jade Goodey tragically passed away.
My smear showed severe cell changes and I had to have 2 colposcopies and 2 cone biopsies. Thankfully all the cells were removed. I know have to have a yearly smear. I still don't like having them done and do put off going for a month or two. They are uncomfortable but over and done with within minutes.
Pleae please go when you need too.

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