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Find smear tests traumatic and painful, advice please

(21 Posts)
PeppermintCrayon Thu 09-Apr-15 00:55:59

I have just had my smear test reminder letter and was already stressed out when I read a thread in active blithering on about how smears don't hurt and you can't even feel them.

EVERY smear test I have EVER HAD has hurt and left me in pain after. I am a survivor of sexual abuse and rape and find them more stressful than most.

Last time I had one I told the nurse I have issues with finding them painful and it made no bloody difference. I don't want another one, frankly.

Is there any place I can have one done by people who will be more sensitive and ensure it doesn't hurt? My village GP surgery is evidently not the place.

Lweji Thu 09-Apr-15 01:05:02

What I find that helps me is to let them put the speculum in and take a few seconds to relax before they open it. And I tell them to let me relax first at that stage.

You may still find it uncomfortable, and maybe weird after that, but it shouldn't be too painful.

Does the letter suggest an alternative local place?

PeppermintCrayon Thu 09-Apr-15 01:06:16

That's a good suggestion thank you, didn't know you could ask for that.

No suggestion I don't think, just asks me to book one.

ChablisTyrant Thu 09-Apr-15 01:07:47

I loath smears and put one off for years. Is there any merit in asking the GP whether adults can have the HPV vaccine to lower risk of cervical cancer? No idea whether this makes medical sense but just a thought...

Lweji Thu 09-Apr-15 01:15:46

Adults could get the vaccine, but they may already have been exposed to the viruses, so they still need the smear to check for possible abnormalities.

Lweji Thu 09-Apr-15 01:17:49

The nurse/doctor should be able to accommodate you just as long as they can get the specimen.

Maybe also take a pain killer for at least one hour before the test? It might take the edge out of it.

Fifis25StottieCakes Thu 09-Apr-15 01:23:54

Do you have the scrape one or the water one, my last one was a water one and i found them to be much better, think i'm due another one soon

Fifis25StottieCakes Thu 09-Apr-15 01:29:17

here Its water and a brush but you need to use a pad afterwards as you get a bit leaky, i hardly felt a thing.

I might be out of date with this and you might have had one as its a while since my last one, idk are all surgeries doing it this way now or some still doing it the old way

PeppermintCrayon Thu 09-Apr-15 01:39:54

I've never heard of the water one before!

Fifis25StottieCakes Thu 09-Apr-15 01:44:50

i can't think how long ago i had it, i think it was about 2.5 yr ago and she said it was new, she said we will shoot this water up and use this brush if i remember rightly, told me i would leak a bit afterwards and gave me a pad. It was much better than the scrapey one though

PrincessOfChina Thu 09-Apr-15 01:45:27

I usually ask if I can insert the speculum, or at least begin to. Makes it much easier for me.

redastra Thu 09-Apr-15 02:02:41

Hi Peppermint,

I am sorry to hear about your history and your previous problems with having smears done.

I am a practice nursery who does smear procedures and there are a few things that can be done to attempt to reduce your discomfort. As Fifi says it is now a soft brush that is used to take the sample, which should vastly reduce the discomfort. But quite often it is not that the causes the main issue- instead it can be the size of speculum, the clients position on the couch, as well as the smear takers ability.

speculums come in various sizes ranging from virgin to extra large. Peppermint in your case I would probably opt for using a small or virgin size speculum with a cushion/pillow under you (it makes putting in the speculum easier for some. unfortunately the taking of the actual sample feels weird no matter how it gets done but there should be minimal discomfort.

Do you have a sexual health clinic near you? Sometimes this is a good alternative as very often they do more in a day than some GP practices will do in a month (dependent on size and location of pratiice).

You can also ask to be referred to gynaecology as they will possibly be able to use some numbing gel to help.

I hope this helps

Fifis25StottieCakes Thu 09-Apr-15 02:03:42

Yes they still us the speculum with the one i had, im not even sure if that's what it's called the one i had, it sounds like it

pinkfrocks Thu 09-Apr-15 13:14:13

Fifi they don't use water on the patient!

The sample they take is put in a test tube containing a liquid preservative, instead of the sample being wiped on a glass slide and then sent away for analysis.

They use a brush now not a spatula.

pinkfrocks Thu 09-Apr-15 13:16:02

Just to add- it would be quite dangerous to shoot (cold) water up into the cervix- for one thing it would wash away some cells they need to take- and it could in extreme cases cause cervical shock.

redastra Thu 09-Apr-15 14:00:39

Thanks pink, I meant to mention that in my post last night; but I was half asleep!

Adawells Thu 23-Apr-15 17:43:16

If you are over 30 years old you can of course order an HPV self test kit online. They cost about £45 but will be able to tell you in a few days if you are HPV negative or positive. If negative there is no risk of having cervical cancer, and you may wish to opt out of testing.

FadedRed123 Thu 23-Apr-15 23:16:30

A few suggestions that might help:
Ask for a double appointment, if receptionist asks you why, say it's a private matter you'll discuss with the nurse. This will allow more time, so no excuse to rush you.Tell the nurse you have had a bad experience with smears in the past and you need to be 'in control' of the procedure in order to cooperate. If you don't get the reassurance from her, then leave.
A pillow under the bum helps, as previous poster says.
You can insert the speculum yourself, if you think this wish, take it slowly.
Deep breath in through your nose then out through your mouth x3 can help to relax.
Hands by your sides, not above your head, helps to relax tummy muscles.
Loaded bowel and full bladder can distort the anatomy 'down there' and make it more uncomfortable, so try to get appointment to suit your bowel habit (easier said than done) or have a mild aperient the day before if necessary to ensure your lower bowel is empty and have a wee when you get to the surgery before your appointment.
Hope it all goes well for you.

PeppermintCrayon Thu 23-Apr-15 23:30:38

Thanks for the advice and the thread bump. I've still not booked a smear.

you are over 30 years old you can of course order an HPV self test kit online. They cost about £45 but will be able to tell you in a few days if you are HPV negative or positive. If negative there is no risk of having cervical cancer, and you may wish to opt out of testing.

Really?! Why 'of course'? Does everyone else know this?

I'm not putting it in myself, sounds awful - I don't want to put something in there with someone else present.

Can I really ask for a gyno referral?

pinkfrocks Fri 24-Apr-15 11:40:37

Adawells never heard of the DIY HPV kit!
Was discussing the HPV test with my gynae recently as I am getting to an age now where I won't need to have many more smears unless I have a new partner. He told me that the test cost about £150- though that is with a dr doing it and lab processing.

The other thing is though that the HPV test is only valid if you have no more partners (or use a condom) because once you do have another partner the risk could change.

OP if you don't want to go to your GP there are other options:
Marie Stopes clinics
Brook ( if you are young)
FPA clinics
Most private hospitals which have well woman screening

I am sure you have had counselling after the abuse etc ( really sorry to hear that) but maybe something like hypnotherapy might be an answer long term, if you could find a sympathetic female practitioner to help you?

It sounds as if you are suffering from vulvodynia which is brought on by the stress and that is what makes it painful. The answer is to be able to relax and maybe some kind of therapy could help you with this?

Adawells Fri 12-Jun-15 23:40:57

An HPV self test kit is something you do at home and send off. Just Google HPV self test kit. There are quite a few types available. They cost about £50, and will be sent to you in the post. One is called Tampap and involves inserting a tampon-like swab, another looks like a larger Q-tip. You just stick it up and get a swab. Pop it into the container and post it back to them. Results come in a few days.
The NHS doesn't promote them as they would lose people from their screening programme, and GP's get incentivised payments to encourage women to screen. They don't want women to know they could do this test painlessly themselves or they'd lose income.

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