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To share what my Smear nurse said?

(303 Posts)
LellowYedbetter Wed 20-Feb-19 12:53:05

On Friday I went for my smear ... after two weeks of dreading it. The embarrassment, the awkwardness, what if I smell? What if the nurse thinks I look weird down there? What if .. what if ... what if ...

Well I got there and sat down. The nurse made small talk about unrelated stuff and then sighed and said “I’ve got 12 smears today, all one after another! I’m going to be smeared out by the time I leave work!”

Ok so apart from the “smeared out” comment making me laugh like a giggling school kid I IMMEDIATELY relaxed. This procedure that is a nightmare for the patient is just one of many jobs on that nurses list. There are at least 11 other women having their smear today with this one nurse. As if this nurse is going to remember the smelly fanny of patient number 3, or the hairy legs of patient number 1, or the fat belly of patient number 8 ... it made me realise that although the procedure is a massive deal for the patient, to the nurse it’s just another 20 minute appointment. It helped me. And I’m posting this hoping it might help others?

FooFighter99 Wed 20-Feb-19 12:57:16

Smeared Out brilliant!

Thanks for posting OP, lets hope it helps someone overcome their (unnescessary) fear grin

iklboo Wed 20-Feb-19 12:58:52

Anyone else singing 'All Smeared Out' to the tune of 'All Cried Out' grin?

Celebelly Wed 20-Feb-19 13:01:26

I'm singing it to the tune of 'All Shook Up'

golddigga Wed 20-Feb-19 13:01:26

I'm glad it helped you relax!! When my most recent one was done my nurser said 'you can go and have a little treat now, maybe some chocolate?' And I said 'I've got a twix in my bag I've been looking forward to'. Her response (totally innocently, not meaning any gross connotations) 'Ooh smear twix, how nice!' Now all I think about when looking at a twix is 'smear twix'! And bearing in mind it's fingers of chocolate too... 😂😂😂😂

KingLooieCatz Wed 20-Feb-19 13:05:42

The nurse I saw pretty much insisted I celebrated with tea and cake. She reckons everyone does. She also said at her surgery she won't have a "smear morning", they do a whole range of stuff. She said she wouldn't be bothered anyway.

She was fab and suggested I put the speculum in myself, which made a world of difference and is now my top tip for smear fear.

May be we should talk about smear fear more. I'm pleased to see there have been a few threads about smear tests lately, where people share their tips.

LellowYedbetter Wed 20-Feb-19 13:07:18

I’m glad I’m not the only one that found “smeared out” hilarious! I thought I was just being childish 😁

Queenie8 Wed 20-Feb-19 13:11:21

The nurse who did mine last month is amazing, she makes the whole thing relaxed and painless, and also says go and get yourself a treat, some chocolate or cake.

I'm going to dread going once she retires 😢

Chanandler Wed 20-Feb-19 13:11:22

I had a similar conversation except the nurse said "I've done so many smear tests today, I've just been up to my elbows in ....*awkward pause*...... paperwork".

Janecon Wed 20-Feb-19 13:12:43

It's really nice of you to post that to help others. I must I admit I'm genuinely baffled as to why anyone dreads smear tests; they don't bother me at all, but it does seem to be an issue for many women. They've just been talking about it on Loose Women which is also a good thing.

UrsulaPandress Wed 20-Feb-19 13:23:27

When I went for a smear a couple of years ago I knocked on the Nurse's door. I was her first patient of the day and she clearly had not looked at her jobs for the day. When I told her I was there for my smear test she rolled her eyes and said "Oh joy, just what I need first thing on a Monday morning".

To be fair, smears never used to bother me but the older I get (and the fatter I get) the more unpleasant they become.

BarbaraofSevillle Wed 20-Feb-19 13:23:52

They were talking about smear avoidance on Woman's Hour a couple of weeks ago and someone made what seemed to be a very valid point that it was ironic and even more puzzling that it seems to be mainly younger women who are more likely to be smear avoiders due to embarassment even though these days we are led to believe that for the majority of them, having their pubic hair removed by a beautician is totally normal.

Maybe smear nurses should hang around beauty clinics and swoop in every time a client with an overdue smear comes in for a bikini wax?

BusySnipingOnCallOfDuty Wed 20-Feb-19 13:26:01

After pregnancy number one i became used to wacking my vag out, legs akimbo.

But i developed external piles (well, a pile) with my fourth pregnancy and have been less ok with smears ever since.

MrsTommyBanks Wed 20-Feb-19 13:28:14

I love seeing my smear nurse. She always shows me videos of her (mad as a box of frogs) dog.

DollyWilde Wed 20-Feb-19 13:28:32

Exactly barbara. I appreciate this isn’t the same for everyone but I would go through 20 smears rather than have 1 bikini wax (indeed I’ve done both rather a lot, one due to a pre-cancerous cells result a couple of years ago)

edwinbear Wed 20-Feb-19 13:29:09

I had mine last Wednesday. I too dreaded it for weeks, not from an embarrassment factor (post 2 DC and prolapse surgery I have zero remaining dignity), but I have always found them uncomfortable and a bit painful. The new nurse at my surgery must be an advanced level smearer - once I told her how anxious I was she was so reassuring, that we'd go at my own pace, did I want to insert myself (no thanks), we'd stop if it hurt etc. To be honest, I hardly felt it!

Usernumbers1234 Wed 20-Feb-19 13:29:51

Great post OP, good job! star

DorisDances Wed 20-Feb-19 13:32:39

I had a student once who came out with the immortal line "I can't see the wood for the trees" We all laughed ....

flowersaremyfave Wed 20-Feb-19 13:33:27

I actually look forward to my smear tests. It's nice to get someone to have the kids and go and have a chat with another adult 🙈

TaliZorahVasNormandy Wed 20-Feb-19 13:33:47

My first smear was also around a few months after my DD was born. The nurse knew I had a baby not so long before so as she got down to the goal end she asked if I had a c section.

Childish but over a decade later it still amuses me. I like to think she just just complimenting me over the tightness of my vag. That's what I tell myself anyway.

TaliZorahVasNormandy Wed 20-Feb-19 13:36:01

Oh and my last smear the speculum broke inside me. Nurse apologised profusely but it werent her felt.

saxatablesalt Wed 20-Feb-19 13:38:03

I don't think the fear is unnecessary. I find smears hugely traumatic and very painful.

Yes of course it's better than the alternative, and I do go, but let's not pretend they are always quick and painless because they aren't.

Bowsbows Wed 20-Feb-19 13:39:54

TallZorah I'd take it as a compliment too, as had you actually had a c-section you'd have had a visible scar line for her to see (particularly a few months after having a baby) and she wouldn't have needed to ask.

MakeItAmazing Wed 20-Feb-19 13:42:34

Hi thought you were going to complain so it is lovely to read you were able to relax. I once went for an extra smear with a new to me nurse and she made it very clear she wasn't in the mood to do the unexpected exam. She told me doing one or two was all right. But she wouldn't want to do them all day. Made me feel really crap.

HeyNannyNanny Wed 20-Feb-19 13:43:20

Have you watched Russell Howard's sketch on smear tests?
I've gone off him recently but I had to admit it really tickled me and the message behind it was good. I'll try and find a link...

Bowsbows Wed 20-Feb-19 13:44:15

saxa I do think some smears are quick, some aren't, some are uncomfortable, some are not as uncomfortable. I've had ones where they couldn't get it on the first (or second) go and it was uncomfortable and a whole lot of messing around and wishing it was over, to ones where it's been so quick that it takes probably literally 20 seconds, barely a scratchy feeling and that is it.

I think the plastic speculums help enormously as my first smears were with the old, (cold) metal speculums, clumsy and uncomfortable. The plastic ones are warmer, better shapes and seem to open more smoothly (probably better as well so the opening is easier for the nurse to get to the right area).

It sounds as though you have not had quick and painless smears which can't have been nice for you, but I think that reading your post could be off-putting to other posters who are worrying and I wanted to add that some can be extremely quick and fairly easy to do.

Bearchild Wed 20-Feb-19 13:44:38

We have a dedicated women's health nurse and GP who work together all day and then there's a quiet evening clinic for women's health procedures like full pelvic examinations, coils, implants etc. They're both lovely women who work well together and I'm always at ease when I see them,it can make all the difference. Once I saw another GP as an emergency appointment and she examined me, the whole time she was doing the exam she had a disgusted look on her face and screwed her nose up when I told her I was terrified because I was bleeding heavily after sex. I was really put off for so long about going back, I left the surgery and cried because I felt ashamed and disgusted with my body, luckily she's left now.

HeyNannyNanny Wed 20-Feb-19 13:44:57

youtu.be/rCUEZz0L5PY here we go!

Lalliella Wed 20-Feb-19 13:45:48

I’d rather have 500 smear tests than root canal work! Mind you, I had IVF so I’ve had plenty of experience of medical staff (including men) fumbling around my fanny!

MakeItAmazing Wed 20-Feb-19 13:46:01

To a PP, I think it's pretty obvious why some women dread their smears. Do you really need me to explain why?

whifflesqueak Wed 20-Feb-19 13:46:03

My last smear test was awful.

I was actually only at the surgery to get my children’s routine jabs done. The nurse has known me all my life. “Oh Whiffle!” She says, “I see you’re overdue a smear!”

So there, with my children running amok around the room, she made me drop my knickers. I was already tense from the jabs, my children were by this point rummaging in any cupboard that wasn’t locked... and she told me if I didn’t relax this would hurt. if I didn’t relax. Like it was somehow my fault when actually she had orchestrated the single most stressful possible smear test ever.

Grrr.

DobbyTheHouseElk Wed 20-Feb-19 13:47:20

I went for mine last month. I explained I was nervous and that since childbirth my cervix seems to have disappeared and it’s hard to find. She was amazing. Understood my fears and it was over so fast. Literally seconds. She said cervix was obviously there. I was almost disappointed that she’d found it so quickly.

It made me realise that not all smear tests are equal. My body is the same, but every smear I’ve had has been different to the last. This one was the best.

PlumPorter Wed 20-Feb-19 13:47:53

I haven't had a smear since before I was pregnant with my eldest. He's now 20.

Embarrassment about what I might look like; what the nurse might think of my pubic topiary and personal hygience are not any of the reasons I don't attend.

saxatablesalt Wed 20-Feb-19 13:48:04

To a PP, I think it's pretty obvious why some women dread their smears. Do you really need me to explain why?

Quite. Some people are just absurdly insensitive and close minded, it beggars belief doesn't it.

PlumPorter Wed 20-Feb-19 13:49:36

So there, with my children running amok around the room, she made me drop my knickers

You need to learn to say no. Nurses can't 'make' you do anything.

But the way that I have been spoken to/treated at previous smears plays a big part in why I no longer go.

PrincessConsuelaBananahamm0ck Wed 20-Feb-19 13:49:57

Good post OP. I find it such a shame that some women feel weird about going for a smear test. I don't really get why it's embarrassing and certainly not why some people miss having them for this reason. Maybe it's women who haven't had babies that get embarrassed - I certainly found myself less concerned about getting my fanny out for people once I'd been through child birth!

Having said that, getting my bits out for 'medical people' is fine with me - but I hate getting changed in front of other women at the gym and always wait for a cubicle. I'm so weird!

Janecon Wed 20-Feb-19 13:52:12

@MakeItAmazing I think I might be the PP you refer to. Looking back I worded my post badly. Of course there must be reasons why some women do, I should have said why so many dread it.

I do think it's important that we send a positive message about smear tests, especially for young women. They shouldn't feel it's something to dread. My last one was quite painful, but only for a few seconds, and the nurse explained it gets more painful with age (I'm in my 50s). No worse than waxing though.

saxatablesalt Wed 20-Feb-19 13:52:30

It sounds as though you have not had quick and painless smears which can't have been nice for you, but I think that reading your post could be off-putting to other posters who are worrying

Well my experience of this is the same as my experience of birth. All I read when I was pregnant where people telling me it really wasn't that bad and I would forget it all when my beautiful baby was in my arms. When my birth was so painful and so horrendous that I probably won't ever have more children.

Same as my smear really. Over in a jiffy, it doesn't hurt at all. Well, I've had four in my life, performed by different people, with metal speculums and with plastic, and they have all been hideous. I still go, because I would rather catch cancer early, but the experience is always horrid.

But you're not allowed to talk about these things as otherwise you are scare mongering and putting people off, rather than simply having a right to talk about an actual thing which happened to you.

Any intelligent person reading my post would clearly have known that because my experience is awful doesn't mean her experience will be the same. Whereas most people here who say the process is painless are talking like they are speaking for all women. They don't speak for me.

NeverStopExploring Wed 20-Feb-19 13:54:24

Completely get why women don’t like them and how previous traumatic experience can result in people not going but for me it was a given. My mum and nan both had cancer relating to female hormones so any prodding and poking needed to clear me of any risk is one I’m willing to take. It’s a personal choice but I would encourage everyone to get tested and raise concerns before having one

HeyNannyNanny Wed 20-Feb-19 13:55:18

I have no issues with smears but by far the worst doctors appointment I had was having my copper coil fitted.
I have never had children and I'm under 30.

They had to scrape me off the ceiling, it was by far the most painful experience I've ever had. (and my pain threshold is very high)

seven201 Wed 20-Feb-19 13:56:04

I was once asked just after the speculum had been put in if I'd had children. I wish I just said "why, do I have a bucket fanny?" But I didn't, we just had awkward silence! Didn't stop me going again though. I always think they're a lot less horrid than you think they're going to be. You just need to do it and get it done. I like the idea of deserving a treat afterwards.

thecatsthecats Wed 20-Feb-19 13:56:55

I repeat this anecdote a lot, so in brief, the VERY WORST medical experience I had (low ranking compared to many, I know), was with a smear nurse who treated the whole thing as awkward and shameful.

I honestly don't know how she gets through her day. It was awkward enough for five minutes.

I do not have shame or self consciouness with medical professionals.

It is as much their job as it is mine to answer tedious emails or update the database.

My body is not poster worthy, but neither is it medically remarkable.

And nurses like that are awesome.

Littlecaf Wed 20-Feb-19 13:57:40

@PlumPorter

Sorry that you had a bad experience. I don’t know what happened but in 20 years things have changed as most posters now show....maybe try it again?

whifflesqueak Wed 20-Feb-19 13:58:00

grin obviously I said no, plum.

But then you get the whole lecture about how important it is and how quick and painless it is and before you know it she’s got her rubber gloves on and you think maybe just getting it done will be quicker than getting her to shut up about it.

Littlecaf Wed 20-Feb-19 14:00:38

I’ve had numerous medical exams down there and the smear test is the quickest.

Thank god they don’t use metal ones any more. Every nurse has “hidden” it before they insert. I remember once it coming out with a big fanny fart noise blushgrin

MakeItAmazing Wed 20-Feb-19 14:01:20

For those who won't go because someone was unkind, etc, you could be risking your life sad.

sprouts21 Wed 20-Feb-19 14:01:37

There seems to be a growing idea that women who don't go for smears are embarrassed and that they need to just stop being silly and get over it. Many women who don't have smears don't have them because they have looked into the risks.

cheeseypuff Wed 20-Feb-19 14:03:18

saxatablesalt you sound very traumatised by your birth experience & you have my sympathy. It is possible to speak to a specially trained counsellor to "unpack" some of the issues you have had (a friend of mine who experienced a traumatic birth did this & she found it incredibly helpful).

I completely understand why you'd be reluctant to go for a smear, but as many have said, it is something that could save your life ultimately. It's not quite the same, but I really hate needles, to the point of feeling faint if I see one going into my skin, I also find that painful that has never put me off being vaccinated or taking my kids for vaccines though.

I would wholeheartedly encourage everyone to take advantage of any free health screening (not just smears). Hopefully as more medical professionals become familiar with birth trauma & the difficulty of smears for some women, this will become easier.

StepAwayFromGoogle Wed 20-Feb-19 14:03:55

@sprouts21 - the risks of having smear tests?

crosser62 Wed 20-Feb-19 14:04:26

This reminds me of the flannel and the glitter story!

MyFamilyAndOtherAnimals1 Wed 20-Feb-19 14:07:45

This made me think of something that's affected my DH at work recently....

My DH works at a hospital and takes prostate biopsies. When he's doing the procedure, he says he likes to maintain a light-hearted and (where appropriate/perceived to be taken well by the patient) an informal atmosphere in the room. He has received quite a lot of cards/notes/letters from patients thanking him for making it a less unpleasant experience, and he hasn't received one complaint from a patient.
Recently, he's been training another member of staff to do the same procedure, a member of staff who is much more senior to him. Apparently, this member of staff has been heard to complain about the light-hearted atmosphere in DH's rooms, and instead thinks he should be much more formal - such as, all the patients should be called 'Sir', and that there shouldn't be any informal chatter.

I think your comment really just proves how important the attitude of the practitioner is, and how much the small informal comments can really help a patient.

BarbaraofSevillle Wed 20-Feb-19 14:08:34

I think there is a risk of false positives, especially with younger women, which leads to unnecessary treatment.

I had a postive smear when I was 17 and had some sort of laser treatment and then I had annual smears for about 5 years, all clear. No idea if the first one was real or a false positive.

I don't think they do smears at that age any more, because of the risk of false positives. I think they start at 25, but then that wouldn't have helped people like Jade Goody, who I think developed cervical cancer in her early 20s?

saxatablesalt Wed 20-Feb-19 14:09:15

I completely understand why you'd be reluctant to go for a smear, but as many have said, it is something that could save your life ultimately.

Read my posts. I quite clearly say that I do go for smears.

I have been for birth trauma counselling. Ultimately it did nothing. I did not, however, have an unusual experience, but talking about birth trauma is taboo because it scares other women.

amusedbush Wed 20-Feb-19 14:10:33

This reminds me of the flannel and the glitter story!

Everyone and their granny tells this urban myth, it's always a friend of a friend. Three different people in a facebook group I use have claimed to know someone who did the glitter flannel/glitter spray instead of fanny deodorant thing. Although even more people have claimed to know someone who taught/treated/babysat a child called La-a hmmgrin

I'm lucky as my smear tests never hurt. I barely feel them, to be honest, it just takes some rummaging to find my cervix blush I scheduled my last one on the morning of my grandad's funeral because I had the day off anyway. When I told the nurse she said, "Very efficient planning. It's not like this is going to ruin a nice day!" grin

VietnameseCrispyFish Wed 20-Feb-19 14:13:33

That’s actually really smart/clever bedside manner, I bet she says it to everyone! It’s a quick and subtle way of putting someone at ease by reminding them it’s a routine thing for her without actually having to make a big deal of it.

I find some of the discourse around smears really bizarre at times though, the constant ‘it’s quick and painless!’ when it simply isn’t always true, I’ve never missed one but they’re excruciatingly painful for me. While at the same time suggesting you go and treat yourself with chocolate cake like a small child for what is ostensibly just a normal routine part of healthcare. A really small deal nobody should be worried about versus something so intimidating you need to reward yourself after, which is it? 😂

It can all be a bit infantilising too, reassuring grown women who are well aware they’re not the only ones to ever have a smear that their fanny isn’t special or gonna cause the nurse to recoil in horror, the whole ‘it’s totally painless!’ thing to get women through the door who might then find it’s anything but, and the frequent reminders of ‘a smear might be awkward but it’s better than cancer’ which is obvious to even the biggest dimwit: people don’t avoid smears because they mistakenly believe cancer will be easier to deal with. They do for a range of reasons that should be taken seriously and worked around.

Flexibility is useful I think, at my last GP appt for another issue he mentioned I was due a smear and offered to do it there and then which he did, I was really grateful that in a hurried ten min slot he was willing to carry one out despite the queue outside the door so I didn’t have to come back and use another appointment.

But yeah it’s just all a bit weird. There isn’t all of this drama around men having their prostates checked (public health campaigns, comedians promoting it, having it compared to cancer treatment, insisting it’s pain free). I do think it veers into treating women like idiots or kids sometimes.

MeadowHay Wed 20-Feb-19 14:13:39

I'm 25 and my first one is now a few months overdue. Gave birth to DD1 in the summer, have PTSD for the birth, last month had a gynae appt as still having some issues with my pelvic floor. His exam wasn't painful and he said as I didn't find that painful I shouldn't find the smear painful, but the previous exam by the GP was really painful, and it's not just the pain, it's the severe anxiety surrounding it all and that I get taken back to my birth experience when I go to medical settings and have those examinations. BUT I know I need to go, and I will. I just need to track some cycles first as I haven't been so I can make sure that I book the appointment for when I'm not on my period so I should go in a few months. Hopefully DH can accompany me as I will be terrified sad.

VietnameseCrispyFish Wed 20-Feb-19 14:17:50

Spot on saxatablesalt. You’re entitled to share your experiences. I’d much rather (when the topic comes up) be honest, that no, for me it IS agonising, and others read it and realise they’re not alone in being the unicorn who for some reason doesn’t breeze through their smear not feeling a thing, than plaster a smile on and maintain the ‘oh it’s nothing!’ facade. I’m not remotely embarrassed by them, I’ll happily have any practitioner male or female, and get them on schedule. But my god they’re painful. And I bleed after every time. It’s not the speculum that hurts it’s the scraping.

WildFlower2019 Wed 20-Feb-19 14:20:37

Sorry if this has been mentioned upthread but Dr Zoe was on Loose Women earlier, discussing actually GIVING the smear tests.

She said as a healthcare professional, she's far too concerned with the actual test to take any notice of the women. Can I find the cervix, have I got enough cells, etc.

If anyone is worried, they should just watch that segment on catch up. It'll put your mind at rest.

Also if anybody is worried about smell, eg if you've been at work all day, you can buy wipes from the supermarket and keep them in your handbag. Just get to the doctors 5 mins early and use their toilet, give yourself a quick wipe everywhere before your appt! I always put on clean pants just before I go too. For added peace of mind on the freshness front, haha.

The dr also said women worry about stripping off too but every time I've done it, it's been private behind a curtain and you're given a big bit of paper towel to cover yourself over with. So it's not too bad. I always think they see women of all ages and shapes and sizes so I try not to worry.

I've found the more appts I've been to, the less I really care about it now. Like OP said, it's just one foof of many that week for the nurse!

(I've had to have a few people look down there for various issues over the years!!!)

littlequestion Wed 20-Feb-19 14:22:32

I once made a comment to the nurse about "you must hate this part of the job" during a smear test.

She said "Oh I don't mind this at all. I hate it when I have to do injections at the baby clinic - all those lovely babies and I make them cry".

I always remind myself of this before every smear!

CatchingBabies Wed 20-Feb-19 14:22:57

As a midwife who spends a lot of my day looking at vaginas I agree that we honestly don’t notice and don’t care. It’s just routine to us.

friendlyflicka Wed 20-Feb-19 14:27:09

I have a tilted uterus which means my cervix is very hard to reach and it is painful. But all my nurses have always been lovely. I have no embarrassment about that since having children.

In one day last year I had a smear and mammogram. And the mammogram was really painful because I am so flat chested that manipulated it all into the right place was awkward. The staff were lovely there as well.

Vixxxy Wed 20-Feb-19 14:28:07

I had a similar conversation except the nurse said "I've done so many smear tests today, I've just been up to my elbows in ....*awkward pause...... paperwork".*

grin

SinkGirl Wed 20-Feb-19 14:28:22

I must I admit I'm genuinely baffled as to why anyone dreads smear tests; they don't bother me at all, but it does seem to be an issue for many women.

One in five women are victims sexual assault
One in ten women have endometriosis, and more have PCOS, vulvodynia and other conditions that cause them pelvic pain.

Is it really that difficult to understand why something that’s painless to you might be painful or traumatic for someone else?

Stopwoofing Wed 20-Feb-19 14:29:39

it's natural to worry more about things like smears when younger as you've less life experience. I'm very shy generally (I couldn't get a bikini wax) but after 2 dc, there are some unpleasant, necessary things you have to get on with. It's always a huge relief when it is done!

pudding21 Wed 20-Feb-19 14:30:00

I'm a nurse. Not a smear nurse but a nurse. I have inserted more catheters (male and female), suppositories and enemas than you could imagine. I have washed 1000's of patients. I have never once judged anyones body, pubic topiary or smells. Most good health professionals don't.

Go for your smear test, and treat yourself to a smear twix after. It might just save your life.

Top tip: wear a skirt on smear day and if you find it uncomfortable take some pain killers before hand. Even if its just placebo it helps.

TFBundy Wed 20-Feb-19 14:30:44

BarbaraofSeville I was just saying to my mum the other day that getting a full bikini wax is WAY more mortifying and drawn out than a quick smear. All that trying to control your labia while keeping the skin taut and then holding your bum cheeks apart although I weirdly enjoy that bit so she can get right in there and trying not to weep with the pain. It's a million times worse for me than a little smear....

But I do have lots of sympathy with anyone who suffers pain during smears as one of the lucky 20% who cannot tolerate hysteroscopy without GA. DH said it sounded as though I was being burnt at the stake. blush

Judystilldreamsofhorses Wed 20-Feb-19 14:33:47

Smears generally don’t bother me, but at my last one the nurse was running super late (about 40 minutes) and was really abrupt - presumably she was a bit stressed about catching up, and it was rushed and horrible. I wish they had told me upfront how long the wait would be and given me the option to re-book. I wondered afterwards how a young woman having her first one, or someone who was nervous would have made of it, and if it would have put them off their next one.

extraspoons Wed 20-Feb-19 14:37:58

I'm really taken about about fears of 'smelling' or 'looking weird down there'. I note another poster saying that younger women are more likely to be embarrassed by smears than older women. Surely this can only be because young women are made by media/porn/society to feel pressure about the look and smell of their vulva, in a way older women weren't?

I don't like smears because they hurt but it has never occurred to me to think that the nurse may be making a judgement call on the presentation of my vulva!

Janecon Wed 20-Feb-19 14:38:11

@sinkgirl I did apologise for wording my post badly. Yes, of course there will be some women for whom it will be a difficult experience due to past issues.

Janecon Wed 20-Feb-19 14:39:49

@SinkGirl also, I did not say that I found smear tests painless. I have suffered endometriosis leading to infertility and operations.

PlumPorter Wed 20-Feb-19 14:42:39

But then you get the whole lecture about how important it is and how quick and painless it is and before you know it she’s got her rubber gloves on and you think maybe just getting it done will be quicker than getting her to shut up about it.

I really do get that. Except that, in any other scenario, that would be coercion!

Sorry that you had a bad experience. I don’t know what happened but in 20 years things have changed as most posters now show....maybe try it again?

Tbh, in that time, we've had alerts in our health authority that smears have been conducted incorrectly; processed incorrectly; and the wrong results have been given... I'm low risk. I'll take my chances with nature I think wink

Like I said my reasons for not going have NOTHING to do with being embarrassed; self conscious or any other perceived 'trivial' reason. I have friends who are GPs and nurses - I know full well that they don't stand there judging you on whether you've shaved your legs or how pretty your fanny is.

But until someone can assure me that I will definitely be treated with courtesy, dignity and respect - I ain't goin' back.

VietnameseCrispyFish Wed 20-Feb-19 14:45:16

Also if anybody is worried about smell, eg if you've been at work all day, you can buy wipes from the supermarket and keep them in your handbag. Just get to the doctors 5 mins early and use their toilet, give yourself a quick wipe everywhere before your appt! I always put on clean pants just before I go too. For added peace of mind on the freshness front, haha.

I always do this, take some baby wipes in my bag and have a quick wipe in the bathroom before i go in unless it’s first thing in the morning. I’m not concerned with a particularly strong smell or anything, I just think it’s basic manners when another human being has to get all up and close with your areas, in the same way you wouldn’t attend the dentist without brushing your teeth right beforehand!

Pinkblanket Wed 20-Feb-19 14:45:50

When people say it is painful, do you mean that the pain last longer than the actual smear itself? I've had a few that have hurt, but only in the few minutes that it is being actually carried out.

NaturalBornWoman Wed 20-Feb-19 14:47:27

Top tip: wear a skirt on smear day and if you find it uncomfortable take some pain killers before hand. Even if its just placebo it helps.

Does it help with sexual trauma related smear phobia? Or cervical shock?

Don't be so bloody patronising. We all know that it doesn't take long, and cancer can kill. A fucking twix wouldn't have helped me feel better after being resuscitated and losing my driving license for a year.

VietnameseCrispyFish Wed 20-Feb-19 14:48:17

Pinkblanket it hurts during the scraping, severely, like actual “bite down on my fist” pain (the chaperone was trying to tell me to say ‘four foot snake’ last time as I couldn’t prevent swearing under my breath!). But it hurts for a few hours after too, like a dull but intense ache. The aching is fine though, it’s the pain of the scraping that gets me. I have a very high pain threshold ( I know everyone says that haha) but it’s a pain unlike anything I’ve felt before as it’s so deep and internal and acute, and you can’t do anything about it, it’s in a place you don’t normally feel anything, it almost feels like skin being burned.

EnglishRose13 Wed 20-Feb-19 14:54:18

The nurse who performed my most recent smear was amazing. I wonder if it's the same woman. 😂

reallyanotherone Wed 20-Feb-19 14:58:14

I was pissed of the other day as a salon in the area is advertising a free wax if you bring your smear appointment card.

They just do not get that they are basically saying ooh you can’t go for a smear without waxing first. Hair! How unsightly, the nurse will judge hard if you don’t remove it.

Piss off. I don’t wax or shave, i don't care if it’s free, and i don’t appreciate the pressure to do so.

pudding21 Wed 20-Feb-19 14:58:42

naturalbornworman wasn't being patronising at all, and I wasn't referring to people who have had sexual trauma or cervical shock ffs. I was referring to the many people who talk about mild discomfort and embarressment. Obviously thats a different thing all together.The OP was saying for 2 weeks she dreaded it and was embarresed. I was saying in general for young girls who have stated that they fear their smell or shape of their vagina is odd. For people who get mild discomfort, paracetamol or ibuprofen helps. And wearing a skirt is practical.

I have had cervical shock after insertion of a mirena so I know what it feels like.

VietnameseCrispyFish Wed 20-Feb-19 15:05:26

They just do not get that they are basically saying ooh you can’t go for a smear without waxing first. Hair! How unsightly, the nurse will judge hard if you don’t remove it.

Huh, that’s weird, I interpreted it more as the salon were doing something nice to promote having smears! As people might be more likely to book one knowing they’re gonna get a freebie wax. Cos other than possible repeat customers that may pay next time, what are they gaining from this?

You can’t deny there are women though who feel like they might be less embarrassed to attend if they’re done some hair removal, adult women are capable of deciding whether they want a smear or not and if they do whether they want to do anything different with their hair. I doubt many people would see that promo and think omg I’d better cancel my smear if I haven’t waxed, I didn’t realise a clinician would be horrified by my hairy vulva. Or do you disagree?

HappilyHarridan Wed 20-Feb-19 15:05:26

Mine told me, completely unprompted, AFTER she did my smear, that I shouldn’t be embarrassed about my bikini line. I bloody wasn’t!

AlexaAmbidextra Wed 20-Feb-19 15:08:36

I must I admit I'm genuinely baffled as to why anyone dreads smear tests; they don't bother me at all,

Well lucky you. Wait until you’re post menopause and the speculum feels like the nurse has inserted a red-hot poker into you. ☹️

dudsville Wed 20-Feb-19 15:09:02

I love the idea of a smear twix, and I think Barbara's idea of smears at waxing shops is actually a great idea. For me I don't care about showing someone my body, it's that it hurts. The lovely nurse does all the "relax" talk the whole time I'm thinking "get on with it, I want to pain behind me!" I don't need to chill, I'm easy going by nature, but this is like having a tooth pulled when you poke around trying to find my hidden cervix while I try to push my fanny as high up in the air as possible. I shall have smear wine next time!

VietnameseCrispyFish Wed 20-Feb-19 15:09:14

For the nurses on this thread, something I just wondered: if a patient came for a smear and did genuinely have a severely malodorous smell, that could indicate a health issue (like the smell that comes from bacterial vaginosis for example which is unmistakable and clearly not just a normal smell), would you say anything or advise swabs to check? Or would you be so worried about embarrassing the patient you’d not say anything and leave it to them to figure out or not in another way?

If a doctor was doing a breast examination and noticed a rash or skin condition they could treat they’d bring it up as part of overall good medical care, same as if they were checking a broken foot and noticed a fungal nail infection. So would the same apply for a smear?

ItsNotNormalLove Wed 20-Feb-19 15:09:16

my first smear was in another country and was horrific. I then went years and years without having one because I was scared.
i got my act together in 2018 and had one and
abnormal cells were detected. Ive since had four cervical biopsies and now I'm on a six monthly recall for smears for two years. This whole experience has shocked and worried me so now I will go every time it's due and I won't care if it's a bit embarrassing or whatever. Had one this Monday and it was absolutely fine, nurse was a star.

RavenLG Wed 20-Feb-19 15:09:55

Once a nurse said to be i had an 'unremarkable' cervix. I wasn't sure whether to be happy or a bit miffed grin

reallyanotherone Wed 20-Feb-19 15:12:52

I doubt many people would see that promo and think omg I’d better cancel my smear if I haven’t waxed, I didn’t realise a clinician would be horrified by my hairy vulva. Or do you disagree?

A lack of “self care” can be interpreted by medics as an indicator for depression. The current normality of complete pubic hair removal means completely natural is often queried.

Why should women be less embarrased after doing some hair removal? Why are they embarassed for not doing so?

As someone who doesn’s remove hair being offered a free wax before my smear does make me think hair removal is expected.

VietnameseCrispyFish Wed 20-Feb-19 15:16:19

Bit I a

Alsohuman Wed 20-Feb-19 15:18:30

I read it as something nice to reward a smear, too. And I don’t remove my pubic hair.

I loathe my smears as do the people who carry them out. I’ve got a kink in my cervix apparently which means it takes ages and it hurts for a very long time. No way am I not having them, though.

thatmustbenigelwiththebrie Wed 20-Feb-19 15:19:42

I always wear a skirt or a dress when having a smear. I find it so less exposing. Just whip your tights and knickers off and lie down and your dress is like a curtain.

VietnameseCrispyFish Wed 20-Feb-19 15:20:55

Oops

Bit of a reach I think. Greasy hair and dirty clothes and a bad smell together would indicate further enquiry into someone’s self care. But in a medical setting body hair and a full Bush is entirely unremarkable.

If the surgery offered hair removal of course you’d be thinking oh god, is that expected? But they never would, it’s a salon, not connected to the doctors in any way. Surely you’d realise it was a way for a business to try drum up custom and not that it’s a conspiracy where clinicians had all en masse decided that people need to wax before smears and were incentivising local salons to push the agenda?

And I don’t remove my pubic hair either. Honestly never has entered my mind to think a nurse or doctor would think anything in particular about my pubic hair styling. From having many medics in my social group, it’s more common to come across a full bush than a carefully styled Brazilian or a Hollywood.

QuestionableMouse Wed 20-Feb-19 15:22:45

@Janecon

Many many many reasons.

The last one I had was really painful and left me feeling quite sore for a number of days.

My best friend was taped and finds any sort of intimate contact extremely difficult.

It's lovely they're not a problem for you but not everyone is the same.

Thesuzle Wed 20-Feb-19 15:23:07

Hello All
My best friend who was a nurse told me that if you feel it hurts then next time you should ask if they use “the feather’ instrument its fairly new and does not hurt.. also question the size of the speculum (if I have that right).. i look quite “sturdy” but Ive had two C Sections so the old Vag is not that roomy shall I say !

landgirl1 Wed 20-Feb-19 15:24:46

Severe vaginisimus , tilted backwards & to one side womb makes it extremely painful for me. Last time she spent ages rummaging around, gave up & got another who was supposed to be an expert- she was even worse confusedI’ve asked but never been allowed to put in the speculum myself, it’s always been shove it in then crank open as fast as possible which is absolute agony BUT I would never not go, my sister missed two then was diagnosed with stage 4 cervical cancer, very very lucky to still be here, I just wish I could find somewhere to pay for a private one so there isn’t the hurry

icannotremember Wed 20-Feb-19 15:25:24

Every time I have a smear (and I have had a fair few, I was on recalls after borderline results for a while) the person doing it comments on my cervix being way off to the left. They have never commented on anything else, ever.

I went to the GUM once years and years ago and the dr had a student with her (which I was fine with). I will never forget the dr commented in a parade ground voice to the student on the healthy appearance of my external genitalia. It was hilarious.

Laiste Wed 20-Feb-19 15:49:25

With the skirt vs jeans thing - i prefer to wear my jeans to a smear appt. because i like to keep my socks on during a smear. No idea why. I just feel more comfy with warm covered feet. Each to their own though smile

My old GP was also a gynecologist and he was the one who did the smears at the village surgery. No choice. I had 1 smear with him, and 1 coil insertion. Both times he inserted the (cold metal) speculum (sp?) and then just WHACKED the handle and let it spin open/closed again unchecked while he turned away to get x, y, z from the counter behind him. Really bloody cavalier i thought shockangry but i never had the balls to confront him about it.

For the following smear appt. the receptionist said the surgery had employed a nurse and i was overjoyed and booked in with her for the next smear. When i walked in the new nurse standing there was one of my fellow school pick up Mums from the primary who i would chat to almost daily! I was a bit blush and she was grin. She said ''Hello!! It's you! I don't mind if you don't - just let me know it's fine it's no big deal either way''. Very cheerful and put me at ease. Well, i said i was fine and she was the gentlest and quickest at doing a smear i've ever experienced. (and she was horrified by the spinning the speculum story).

Biscuitsneeded Wed 20-Feb-19 15:57:45

To the pp saying the 'scraping' is painful, your knowledge is out of date and could be very off-putting to anyone reading. They don't scrape any more (I remember the lolly sticks they used to scrape with and yes they did hurt). What they use is a brush. Its (not sharp) bristles are trimmed to a sort of triangular shape so the longest bristles go into the os (the small opening of the cervix) and they rotate the brush to gather the cells opposed to scraping. It isn't nearly as uncomfortable - in fact last time I had a smear i didn't notice she had even done it.

VietnameseCrispyFish Wed 20-Feb-19 16:20:24

Biscuitsneeded my last smear was three months ago, they used the brush you’re talking about (I saw it laid out next to the bed) and yes, the scraping bloody hurt. Bit patronising to come on here and assume those of us who find it painful are speaking from ‘out of date’ knowledge confused

SinkGirl Wed 20-Feb-19 16:20:55

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Amortentia Wed 20-Feb-19 16:36:08

When people say it is painful, do you mean that the pain last longer than the actual smear itself? I've had a few that have hurt, but only in the few minutes that it is being actually carried out

I’ve got a weird ridge on my cervix and smears hurt at the time and I get really strong cramps, almost like labour pains after. I usually bleed too. Weirdly, the last one didn’t. Ive no idea what the nurse did differently.

VietnameseCrispyFish Wed 20-Feb-19 16:37:02

That did make me lol SinkGirl, the ‘often queried’ grin, so earnest!

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