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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?

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 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.


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


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!

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