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Traumatic smear test experience(30 Posts)
Almost 4 years ago I had my first smear test, I wasn't worried about going and booked it as soon as I received a reminder. I wasn't a virgin, although my sexual experience was limited and I hadn't been in a relationship for a few years prior to having my smear.
Unfortunately it was the worst experience of my life, it was painful at the time and although I bled slightly I didn't think much of it. Around an hour later I suffered severe bleeding, no amount of padding would stop it and it continued for hours, I went back to the doctors who then sent me to A&E via an ambulance, to this day I have never really had an explanation as to what happened or why. I haven't been in a relationship since, the thought of anything coming near that area now, makes me anxious. I am now almost a year overdue for my second smear test, I discussed my fears with a nurse who I began to feel comfortable with and maybe even trust enough to do it, only to return for an appointment a few weeks ago and she had left. Any confidence I had gained about going has now gone and I feel as though I am back at square one.
I have also discussed this with my own doctor who has said he could prescribe me something as a one off to calm me down a little beforehand as even talking about it makes my whole body tremble.
I guess I am just in need of some advice, because there seems to be no explanation I can not be sure this won't happen again, I am absolutely terrified. I am not naïve to cancer and I understand the importance of having regular smears but physically I do not know if I can go through with it.
Has this happened to anyone else? please help!
Poor you. Not that I've had anything quite as bad happen but I really do hate smears with a passion and keep putting off having them.
apparently there is quite a lot that can be done. Just google and your'll see lots of recommendations. talking to someone very experienced about the angle of your cervix - ( mine is a very strange angle, apparently) and there are creams and sprays and pessaries that can go in before, to help you relax.
apparently there's quite a few things can be done to make it easier, but you would need to have a very sympathetic either doctor or nurse, who was very experienced in this. Worth asking?
I think you need to get a diagnosis of what happened years ago. Has anyone ever looked at you to see what's up there and if there are any problems?
Were you due a period at the time? Could it- and I'm sorry to ask- have been an early miscarriage? (assume not as you say you weren't in a relationship)
Smears can't really cause all that bleeding unless they dislodge something like a polyp because the little brush only goes a few millimetres into the cervix.
I know it's hard but I think you have to try and be positive and not expect a repeat of what happened. But I do think your GP ought to refer you for a scan to try to see if anything's not all it should be.
I don't think having something to "calm" you down is going to help. Your GP is not addressing your concerns and is fobbing you off. You shouldn't bleed excessively after a smear. Spotting is normal. Unless your GP is honest with you and bothers to investigate the issue, I wouldn't have a smear test.
I personally don't have smear tests anymore. I found them traumatic, and with such a high risk of having unnecessary treatment it's just not worth it for me. Perhaps do some independent research and decide if you really need to have this screening test. Alternatively you could have the hpv test, and if you are clear , there is no need for further screening.
This is probably not a popular view, but if you are not sexually active, and have not had many sexual encounters, then I would make an informed choice, based on real risk, to not have them. You are an adult woman and are allowed to choose what you do with your own body. Secondly, you could look into getting the vaccine, so that you feel reassured.
However, if this is stopping you from having a sexual relationship and you would like one, then I would seek both counselling and a medial opinion as to why the bleeding occurred in the first place. It's not really good enough to fob you off with "something to make you relax" - that really is quite patronising. Can you shop around for a sympathetic doctor (maybe female) who will take you seriously?
If you have enough money, you could see if you could get a HPV test privately. That is the way things will be going with the screening programme legacyscreening.phe.org.uk/cervicalcancer and it will mean you are good for five years at least if it comes back negative.
Unfortunately, most of the cheap options seem to offer it as an add on to a smear and will collect the cells the same way, but if you look around, there are less scrapey ways of doing it - maybe more of an sti test.
My last but one smear test was brutal. Not as bad as you, your poor thing.
My last one I told the nurse I was nervous and scared and she was lovely. If she had not been I would have walked out.
FWIW between smears I did find out I have a retroverted or tileted uterus. It is quite common -- about 20% women have it - just uterus tips back not forward - but it can mean it is trickier to access the cervix. Now I know to put my hands under the small of my back when being examined as it just tilts the cervix more centrally. This - and the nurse being aware I had had a rotten time before meant my latest smear was fine.
Please go and see another GP in your surgery. Get some answers for what happened last time.
I agree, find out what happened. Then see someone who is experienced in taking smears. One of our nurses worked in colposcopy for years and she is brilliant at smears. I'm probably a bit deskilled as I don't do many now although I do do internals and have to "look at the cervix"
If I'm inserting a speculum into a nervous person I do it slowly and get them to relax and take deep breaths when I feel them tensing up. That's why I insist on 20 minute appointments if i am doing internal examinations so we are not hurried.
oddsox A negative HPV test only means you are ok now- the minute you have a new sexual partner, the risk is there again.
I know this because although I'm in my 60s, a consultant gynae said that if I had new partners (even at my age) I'd need to keep on having smears.
Just popping by to leave this for OP phescreening.blog.gov.uk/2016/09/30/whod-opt-out-of-screening/
Polly - do look at the legacy screening links and the blog above. The screening programme is due to undergo a big change. The women who were vaccinated are starting to come through and primary HPV testing pilots have shown that this is more effective and that longer intervals between screens are probable.
Women have put up with the 3 year smear because that was the only way, but things have changed and there is much more available now. I don't think that those who are younger who have had the vaccination will be happy having a 3 yearly smear if it is not needed, so maybe self-testing for HPV will be the way (apparently being trialled in the Netherlands.)
Cherylene Thanks for suggesting the links but I'm not sure how they apply to me ?
I'm early 60s and have been told that I'll only need smears until age 65 unless I were to have a new partner.
I don't actually mind smears, though wouldn't say I enjoyed them!
So if you have only had one sexual partner and this sexual partner has only ever had you...does that mean the risk of HPV is very low?
It's very very difficult to opt out of screening.
Oddsox- you just don't bother to turn up. I've had reminders for the past 20 years and don't follow through. My consultant does my smears approx every 2 years. I am sure that a few years back I got hold of a form from the screening people and said I was not taking part (though of course I'm having smears that I pay for more often than the NHS offers.)
Choccy - yes. But my understanding is that HPV isn't only transmitted by actual penetrative sex but can be transferred through any genital contact, so someone would have had to be fairly limited in their sexual experience never to be a carrier. www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/infections-hpv-and-cancer/hpv-and-cancer
I suffer quite badly with smears. Tense up, crack or eject speculums, bleed after....
Best one ever was an ex-MW nurse. She said it was because she'd done so many.
Maybe try a FP / STD clinic. They'll have seen it all. And are on hospital grounds if you need help after?
I had an awful one, although not as bad as yours. The GP specialising in women's health said I should take a valium before the next one. As it turned out, the next one was fine. However, the best one I had was after two sets of "inconclusive" results when I was referred to the gynae at the hospital. Is this a possible option? I put it down to the specialist having lots of experience as they do this kind of test day in, day out.
I would think the key is going to be finding out what on earth happened last time. Your GP must have a discharge letter on the system that says what you were treated for? If not I would contact PALS at the hospital to discuss the episode.
I would suggest with a clear previous test and no sexual activity since then you are statistically at a lower risk for your age group, so it's probably more important to address the trauma that has led to you being unwilling to enter into relationships.
It's not difficult to opt out OddSocks. Just tell your doctors you don't want to be screened or receive any paperwork regarding smear tests. You will probably have to tell them more than once but the message will eventually sink in. My GPs have finally stopped asking me when I see them too.
Hi Op, I just wanted to say I completely uderstand your fears. I hate having smears, despite having a regular sex life and 3 children, I find the actual test uncomfortable and my body responds by going into spasm and has had to be stopped on several occassions. 10 years ago I had an abnormal smear result and had to go back (it wasnt cancer, just inconclusive)...I went with my sister and she held my hand and I would describe it as worse than childbirth. I havent had one since (I am 51) but I just cant put myself through another examination.
My sister had cancer of the cervix and my mum has ovarian cancer, and even with this information I cant bring myself to go along so I do understand and you are not alone.
Diazepam may help you though, to be honest I wondered if they could put me out like in a proper operation I would be OK with it...very weird as no pain with sex or anything else, just the smear test. I think its psycological.
So if you have only had one sexual partner and this sexual partner has only ever had you...does that mean the risk of HPV is very low?
Yes, exactly. HPV is spread through sexual contact - if you have only ever had sex (not just PIV but sexual touching etc) with one partner, and they have only ever had sex with you, both of you have a very low chance of having picked up HPV.
Most of us under 40s nowadays have had more than one partner, and our partners have probably had more than one partner - so HPV has spread massively in the last couple of decades.
No-one needs testing - but as someone who was diagnosed with severe cell changes a few years ago along with one of the "bad" strains of HPV, and got fast effective treatment for it, I am immensely grateful that it was picked up. OP it sounds like your GP is sympathetic - could you make an appointment with the new nurse to talk about it and see how you feel about them? It's your choice ultimately, you can keep saying no until you feel up to it...
I would second going to an STD clinic. They are the experts in all things down below - after all, its all they do all day.
My experience as well is that the staff at my local sexual health clinic are really lovely people. I think it takes a certain type of person with a decent grasp of empathy to choose to work in sexual health.
I have an issue with speculums myself (I'm so good at involuntary tensing that anything bigger than the smallest speculum just won't open) and have found that the manner of the person handling the procedure makes a huge difference as to whether I can relax enough to permit the test to take place!
just reading this thread has made me feel squeamish, I am currently sitting with my legs very firmly crossed. I do wonder if its a size thing though, my BF told me I am very tight, so that may be a reason it hurts.
pregnant I was going to suggest your pain and tightness might be due to falling hormones (vaginal atrophy) but if you weren't menopausal at 40-ish then it's probably not that.
My consultant asks me to use a vaginal estrogen cream more often leading up to a smear, not for 'access' reasons but to get the cells more easily. I just wonder if you ever decide to have another smear if this is something to bear in mind, especially as you are more post-meno.
I've also heard of women who are nervous inserting the speculum themselves - might that help?
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