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To feel violated by a smear test?

(236 Posts)
Jericoo Tue 27-Oct-20 03:21:42

I had a smear test for the first time today. Although I understand the importance and had thoroughly researched the procedure, I cannot sleep at the moment as I feel so violated.

The doctor was wonderful, answered all of my questions and she took things slowly as she knew I was nervous. Does the feeling of being violated go away? It wasn't painful or even that embarrassing in the end, but the feeling of having something shoved in your hoo-ha by someone you've just met is not pleasant.

I am worried this will become a complex and I will avoid having it done again in 3 years as the way I feel now is so horrid, I am in tears. I know someone who had to have a hysterectomy at 30 because of cervical cancer, so it's very important to me to not develop a fear of this.

Does anyone have any tips on how to overcome the feeling of violation?

OP’s posts: |
MaryShelley1818 Tue 27-Oct-20 03:26:30

Do you have anything in your history that would cause you to feel like this? Obviously it's not a normal reaction to feel so strongly about a medical procedure that you describe as being carried out appropriately and with sensitivity.
I can't say I enjoy them but have had much worse (I presume you don't have children?).
It's probably worth speaking to a GP and accessing professional help.

Offtothedogs Tue 27-Oct-20 03:29:35

I completely get where you're coming from, and of course you're not wrong to feel how you feel. I also find smear tests extremely difficult, even traumatic (and I'm in my 40s now so have had a fair few). It is violating, there's no way around that if that's how you experience it. I don't have any advice really; I continue to have them, I continue to feel tense and anxious in the days leading up to it and to have a good cry afterwards.

What has helped me is finding a nurse who is really empathetic, and asking for her every time. Not having to wonder who will be doing it and what their manner will be like removes a bit of the anxiety (although I've only had one experience with a nurse who was rough and tutted at me getting upset).

Also, don't allow yourself to feel bullied by people who will aggressively insert you shouldn't feel like this, because "it's a simple procedure" and "it saves lives". Yes cervical screening can save lives, but it's horribly invasive and can be really painful. It's fine to really hate it and resent it (if men had to have it you can bet they'd have rolled out a urine test by now).

Offtothedogs Tue 27-Oct-20 03:30:51

And there we go with the very first post. OP, it is completely normal to feel like this about an unpleasant and invasive procedure in the most intimate part of your body. There is nothing wrong with you for feeling like this!

Offtothedogs Tue 27-Oct-20 03:32:32

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

CallItLoneliness Tue 27-Oct-20 03:40:11

You feel how you feel, and someone telling you you "shouldn't" feel that way won't make a difference. They aren't compulsory, and there are alternative tests on the horizon. www.theguardian.com/society/2019/nov/04/cervical-cancer-self-tests-may-be-key-smear-alternative-study. If you find it traumatic, and you are low risk (monogamous/partner has not had many partners) it may even be better for you to opt out--only you can decide that, but you may wish to look at the work of Dr. Margaret McCartney, a GP who refuses screening.

rainkeepsfallingdown Tue 27-Oct-20 04:09:46

I have no tips, I'm afraid.

The nurse who did my first and only smear was not kind, and I feel violated to this day.

I'm considering purchasing a self-sampling kit, seeing as they are now available privately (not on the NHS) but it will either tell me everything is fine, or I need follow up, and I'm not sure if I would take the follow up due to the fear of having another nurse/doctor recreate the first traumatic experience.

Unless you've had a bad smear, I don't think you can relate to the feeling of violation. So, nothing useful to add - just some empathy. I hope you manage to work through your feeling better than I have.

Rangoon Tue 27-Oct-20 04:18:05

I really don't like it either and find it, at best, uncomfortable. I dread it but the thought of how much more invasive the treatment for cervical cancer that is not detected early spurs me on. As for people thinking they are low risk because they are monogamous, I think the number of women on here who think their partner or husband is faithful and subsequently find out about multiple affairs would mean this was a high risk strategy. Similarly the partner who has not had many partners - it only takes one other person to pass on the wart virus - again another very high risk strategy.

My doctor recently suggested that doing it on your side can be more comfortable and it was better that way though I had to have one leg stuck in the air (which she eventually put on a convenient shelf as it became apparent that I was never good at gymnastics). Also the new disposable plastic speculums are much better than the old metal ones. I think it might help to plan a special treat afterwards so you have something nice to look forward to after its done - a new magazine or something nice for afternoon tea etc.

Incidentally I had several friends who did have concerning results but because it was caught early the treatment was very simple and very successful and that was twenty five years ago. On the other hand, in my country, we had a doctor who seemingly didn't believe in smear tests and over the years many women died preventable deaths as a direct result of this. There was was a huge inquiry about it when the details became known,

MaryShelley1818 Tue 27-Oct-20 04:18:37

Offtothedogs

Maryshelley I've had two children and I still find smears traumatic. Fuck off with your minimising.

I didn't mean to minimise at all. It's awful that the OP feels like this (or anyone) but she's described that it's something really important to her and why she wants to have it done. If that's the case I don't think it's unreasonable to suggest professional help.
I would also presume that such an extreme reaction is not the norm. That does NOT imply OPs feelings are in anyway not valid.

My comment about children was a genuine question hence the question mark on the end? (I was going to ask if she'd had similar problems during examinations then).

I may not have phrased it perfectly but it's 4am, I'm heavily pregnant and delirious with tiredness.
Thank you for the abuse though, you sound charming.

OP - hope you manage to get some sleep and are feeling a little better in the morning x

Offtothedogs Tue 27-Oct-20 04:33:56

Apologies MaryShelley if you thought I was being abusive - I actually find it really upsetting when people discuss how horrible they find smear tests, and people weigh in with, "oh, there's nothing wrong with smear tests, there must be something wrong with you". That was how your post read to me.

SuzieQQQ Tue 27-Oct-20 04:37:02

Honestly I’d get some counselling. Why do you feel violated? From what you have said you were fully informed and treated with respect by the Dr. not sure how that equates to violation

BefuddledPerson Tue 27-Oct-20 04:41:18

MaryShelley1818

Do you have anything in your history that would cause you to feel like this? Obviously it's not a normal reaction to feel so strongly about a medical procedure that you describe as being carried out appropriately and with sensitivity.
I can't say I enjoy them but have had much worse (I presume you don't have children?).
It's probably worth speaking to a GP and accessing professional help.

Very bad post this, completely disagree.

What the OP describes is absolutely normal.

My only advice is accept your feelings, learn relaxation breathing and try to go to all your appointments without avoiding as the more time you give to 'deciding' the worse it'll be. Focus the energy on coping not deciding. Hope that makes sense.

joystir59 Tue 27-Oct-20 04:42:05

I always hated having them.snd felt violated by them.

Shxx Tue 27-Oct-20 04:53:26

I've never had a smear, is this not the same as a sti checkup? They put the "crank" in you with jelly and take the swabs.
I'm due my first soon

MaryShelley1818 Tue 27-Oct-20 04:55:58

Offtothedogs

Apologies MaryShelley if you thought I was being abusive - I actually find it really upsetting when people discuss how horrible they find smear tests, and people weigh in with, "oh, there's nothing wrong with smear tests, there must be something wrong with you". That was how your post read to me.

I certainly didn't mean that at all. It's obviously very sensitive for you though so I'm sorry you felt upset by it.

Aridane Tue 27-Oct-20 04:58:55

SuzieQQQ

Honestly I’d get some counselling. Why do you feel violated? From what you have said you were fully informed and treated with respect by the Dr. not sure how that equates to violation

Because something has been put up her most private place?

Drysnitchinsbitchin Tue 27-Oct-20 05:03:54

I had a traumatic smear in my 20s. The GP brought in a male student same age as me stating 'of course she doesn't mind' then scraped me really hard. I was in agony for 2 days. As I was dressing behind the curtain there was a bang on the door and she let a man in who was delivering medicines. Being young, I didn't even know it was possible to raise a complaint against a GP.

It stayed with me and in my last smear I burst into tears.

These 'wait until you have children' and 'don't be silly dear' attitudes are dismissive. Why shouldn't a woman query the procedure being done to her? especially such a draconian one?

I now do a HPV postal test.

Suzi888 Tue 27-Oct-20 05:12:45

It is an unpleasant procedure, mine is due and I’m absolutely dreading it. I don’t think there is a way to feel less violated, at least not during the test. Concentrate on your breathing and think about something else perhaps, if you can. I dread it before, despise it during and think about it slightly afterwards, but I don’t dwell on it and I don’t cry. I’m just glad it’s not my job! Are you still thinking about it?

I disagree with other posters who say it’s ‘absolutely normal‘. I don’t know anyone that ends up in tears because of it. I’d suggest having a word with your GP about it next time your smear is due and see if they can suggest anything to help. If the whole scenario is still playing on your mind next week, I’d contact the surgery again for a chat with your doctor. As I don’t think your reaction afterwards is normal at all.

MrsOrMiss Tue 27-Oct-20 05:22:34

Totally see where you are coming from - I've had quite a few and always have to 'go elsewhere' in my head during and after, no matter how nice the nurse is.
Mine stems from my first pregnancy test over 40 years ago, the Dr just ploughed right in there (student in tow). My next smear was worse, the female Dr thought bringing in the whole students cohort half way through was just the ticket. She seemed to delight in my discomfort - bitch.
You're not alone OP flowers

Gremlinsateit Tue 27-Oct-20 05:26:22

I hate them, they hurt, I bleed for a day or two afterwards, they feel violating and they are worse since babies. I find self hypnosis techniques can help a bit, some paracetamol helps a bit, and also PP’s suggestion of planning a small treat afterwards.

Frenchsticks Tue 27-Oct-20 05:29:25

You weren't violated. You consented to a medical procedure and the medical professionals treated with completely appropriately and with respect. All of this is the exact opposite of violating you. So if you feel violated, that is a psychological issue, not a physical one. I doubt there are many women who can say they enjoy getting a smear and for many they are actually quite painful so I fully understand hating getting it done. But you were not violated and you do need to readjust your thinking to understand your feelings because if you convince yourself that you have been a victim of something then you're traumatising yourself further completely unnecessarily and the more you focus on that train of thought, the more you'll convince yourself that something along those line did happen and the less likely you'll be to go again. You say it's important to you to go again in future; you understand why they're important and you want the peace of mind that comes with having them done (which is why we all put ourselves through it). And the previous posts on here trying to suggest you simply don't need to go again are not particularly helpful given you've already acknowledged that you want to be able to go again and not give into these feelings.
So calm down, think about what actually happened and point out to yourself exactly what you felt at what point and what you think contributed to that. Did it bring back memories of past abuse? Was it 'just' the feeling that felt so wrong? Did you have preconceptions before you went in? Was it the clinical environment? The fact that the nurse was wearing so much ppe which can make it feel very odd? Only you can know but do try to make some sense of your feelings and if you can't manage it on your own then yes, speaking to your GP for help with that is certainly a better alternative than spending the rest of your life potentially feeling like you were violated (which means abused).
I'm not trying to minimise your feelings; I completely understand that people do feel very traumatised after a smear for various reasons; but you actually had, for all intents and purposes a positive experience physically so you need to address the psychological reasons as to why you now feel the way you do to not let those feelings overwhelm you.
Good luck OP.

BefuddledPerson Tue 27-Oct-20 05:38:07

I am constantly amazed that some people can not seem to understand how complex and varied humans are.

The OP clearly says she feels violated, not that she thinks she was violated.

This is not an unheard of feeling, health professionals understand this.

It is this person's first smear, just a bit of encouragement that we do get better at these things rather than jumping to 'you are psychologically abnormal' might be helpful!

Frannibananni Tue 27-Oct-20 05:44:31

They are awful. I understand how you could feel violated by them, unfortunately there is no other testing available yet. Let’s hope there will be soon though.

user147425843578 Tue 27-Oct-20 05:50:14

Trauma does usually resolve naturally in a few months. It's raw now but your brain will be trying to process it and then the emotional charge will reduce.

It is likely that 3 years from now the screening method will be different and even if it isn't, it is highly highly unlikely you will still feel how you do right now.

It's not an abnormal reaction. Be kind to yourself. Beating yourself up will only make you feel worse and you don't deserve that.

Gremlinsateit Tue 27-Oct-20 05:50:46

Feeling violated IS psychological, and hardly surprising when you’re talking about lying down partially clad in front of a relative stranger, who then inserts a speculum into a body area you’ve been heavily socialised to think of as absolutely private since your earliest years. Add the pain factor, which is worse for some women than others, and there is nothing odd or extreme about this reaction.

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