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Had a really painful smear test, feeling upset (TMI)

(65 Posts)
nothappy1234 Tue 29-Oct-19 21:24:17

First smear recently. I'm 25 and technically a virgin but done other stuff

The practice nurse was nice enough. I asked her to use a small speculum.

Apparently my cervix was hard to find because of my long vagina- she then went in with the biggest one (with KY jelly). Popping it in was fine but once she cranked it open I gasped in pain and told her to stop, which she did for maybe ten seconds. It wasn't pass-out pain, but getting close.

Anyway it felt like she was moving the speculum around ("can't see your cervix") and pushing it in with such force, I could almost feel it pushing me up the bed!

Bled as soon as I stood up. I felt all shaky and pale afterwards. It was sore around my entrance for 2 days. I went home and cried in bed. Had a look with mirror and bright light- could clearly see the raw edge where she had torn what remained of my hymen shock shock shock

WIBU to complain? I assumed this was totally a normal level of pain until I went home and googled. Fucking hell, surely they don't have to open you up that wide!

Sorry for the essay.

OP’s posts: |
NeedAUsernameGenerator Tue 29-Oct-19 21:30:11

Mine are painful and there's quite a lot of 'searching', it is a fairly common experience unfortunately if not the norm. I'm in my 30s and have had children but my cervix is not in the usual place apparently.

nothappy1234 Tue 29-Oct-19 21:33:52

Thanks for replying, mine needs its own GPS tag by the looks of it, off to one side or some such...

OP’s posts: |
CleverQuacks Tue 29-Oct-19 21:38:33

Um, I am pretty sure you don’t have to have a smear test if you are a virgin... they are testing for HPV which is transferred through sex.

Tolleshunt Tue 29-Oct-19 21:43:30

Sympathies, OP, I have always found them excruciating. The first one I had, around your age, left me absolutely shocked and betrayed about how painful it was, when I had been so vigorously sold the idea it would be no more than ‘uncomfortable’.

Take some painkillers and rest. If you have something to treat yourself with, then go for it.

quincejamplease Tue 29-Oct-19 21:44:15

HPV is responsible for the majority of cervical cancers, but not all.

I don't know about a formal complaint, but I do think she should be made aware of the negative consequences of her actions and the impact. It was awful for you, imagine if she'd done that to a woman with a history of trauma.

Tolleshunt Tue 29-Oct-19 21:47:06

Sorry, meant to add that I don’t think you would be wrong to complain, she should be brought to understand how her actions affected you.

However, I must say that your description of what went on sounds exactly like every smear I have had, so I expect they think ramming the speculum around when it’s against the cervix and fully open is A-ok.

SpuriouserAndSpuriouser Tue 29-Oct-19 21:47:12

Sorry you had such a painful experience, it sounds horrible.

A speculum examination isn’t painful for most women, but it can be, especially if you aren’t used to penetrative sex. It sounds as if that, combined with a tricky to find cervix, made your experience more painful than normal. If you feel you received sub-standard care, then you wouldn’t be unreasonable to complain, but reading this it doesn’t immediately sound as if the nurse did anything wrong. Sometimes it is hard to find the cervix and you have to dig around. Obviously you were there and I wasn’t and if you think there was something in her bedside manner that could be improved, or if you felt unable to ask her to stop then it’s definitely worth speaking to the practice manager/putting in a complaint, but sometimes an internal examination like that can be painful and it can’t really be helped. The important thing is that you feel in control and know that you can stop it if it gets too much.

Just for clarification, it’s a common misconception that you don’t need to have cervical screening if you haven’t had sex, but it’s not true. HPV is transferred via skin to skin contact, so if have engaged in any sort of sexual contact (even if it’s just with one person) then you might have picked it up.

Preggosaurus9 Tue 29-Oct-19 21:47:58

That's shit and if you feel up to it you can complain. My first and only smear I didn't bleed but by god it hurt for days. Same experience of agony and asking the nurse to stop and being ignored. This is why I never went back.

There was a big thread about painful smears a while ago with a lot of posters having similarly awful experiences. While the other half were generalising their own painless experiences onto others and/or having a go about the risks outweighing the pain.

Basically women not being treated like cattle would be a start.

missyB1 Tue 29-Oct-19 21:49:39

Oh bless you how awful! Why didn’t she use the smallest speculum?! I do think it would be worth giving feedback (rather than a formal complaint). This nurse needs to reflect on how she could have done things differently.
I’m menopausal and had my smear a few days ago and the nurse was brilliant, she used loads of lubricant and a very small speculum, even so it was quite painful.

PanamaPattie Tue 29-Oct-19 21:51:13

You should definitely complain. When you told her to stop she shouldn't have continued. I'm so sorry you are in pain. Smear tests are painful and uncomfortable for many women. The nurse needs re-training. If you can't visualise the cervix you ask the person to put their hands under their bum- not carry on rooting around causing pain and discomfort. This nurse could put people off screening for life. Please complain.

PanamaPattie Tue 29-Oct-19 21:56:58

Spuriouser - if an internal exam is painful it must stop and yes it really CAN be helped. It's this attitude that it's ok to cause pain to get the all important smear test is part of the reason women feel like lumps of meat with no informed consent or body autonomy.

SpuriouserAndSpuriouser Tue 29-Oct-19 22:04:47

PanamaPattie if you read what I said you’ll see that I agree with you. I reiterated in my post that you should always feel in control and able to stop the exam if that’s what you want. However it simply isn’t true that an internal exam never hurts, sometimes it can be painful for a variety of reasons. If the woman having the exam wants to stop then absolutely it should be stopped, but a lot of women will choose to put up with a few seconds of pain to get the test done. That choice should 100% be up to the patient, but it’s a perfectly legitimate choice to make.

savingshoes Tue 29-Oct-19 22:22:47

If your 25, haven't you had your HPV vaccine so your at a lower risk?
And I think it says in the leaflet that if you're not sexually active you don't need to attend.
Unless you have symptoms, you don't need to put yourself through something like that.

Haggisfish Tue 29-Oct-19 22:25:16

That’s awful poor you. I had one awful smear like that once-the rest were fine. I need a longer speculum as cervix is very far back and often have to put hands under bum.

mapleleafshiba Tue 29-Oct-19 22:37:40

You DO still need a smear even if a Virgin. My friend was diagnosed with cancer at 23 this year, UNRELATED to HPV. Very rare, still happens.

I'm really sorry this was so unpleasant for you, OP.thanks

LemonPrism Tue 29-Oct-19 23:48:16

Yup, mine felt like that even with the 'virgin speculum' aged 21 (there was another issue wasn't a routine check) and I wasn't even a virgin.

Absolute agonising pain and her telling me to relax hmmHow can I relax it feels like you're ripping me.

But yes, I imagine it's sadly bound to happen if you still have a hymen. Hope you're OK.

nothappy1234 Wed 30-Oct-19 08:15:25

Good to know I'm not alone in this. I don't think I will say anything to the surgery as I reckon it probably would have been the same even with another nurse.

Ps if you are reading this... go for your screening! It only takes 5 mins and then that's you off the hook til 2022 smile

OP’s posts: |
nothappy1234 Wed 30-Oct-19 08:16:49

My risk is pretty low yes, but I think it's good to get checked out just in case.

OP’s posts: |
Newbie1981 Wed 30-Oct-19 08:18:16

Sorry you're in pain but I don't think k this is helpful at all! People are dying because of cervical cancer and now there is scaremongering on here so people won't get the test!

FabulouslyGlamorousBat Wed 30-Oct-19 12:49:21


It's a dilemma, do we make people who have horrific cervical screening experiences keep quiet, in case it puts people off? Surely that's not fair? I do get your point though.

I find smear tests horrifically painful, I have a tilted cervix, long vagina and scar tissue around my vagjnal opening. My last one (earlier this year) took 40minutes and we were both sweating and shaking by the end!

I'm not a wuss! I've had a lumbar puncture and a gastroscopy without sedation and no problem, but after a Colonoscopy yesterday with gas and air I was wondering if anyone has asked for gas and air for a smear? I'm sure it would help.

MissDollyMix Wed 30-Oct-19 12:58:49

I’m sorry OP. It must have been horrible for you and I think you’d be right to put in a constructive complaint. My experience of women’s medicine is that it can be brutal sometimes and as women we’re just expected to put up with discomfort as par for the course. My last smear took 45 minutes with 3 HCP all digging about down there. I’ve had two children vaginally but it was still an awful experience and I was left shaking and in pain. It’s important we speak up, if we can make the experience more comfortable for other women it might encourage take up rate.

Newbie1981 Wed 30-Oct-19 15:57:18

@FabulouslyGlamorousBat yeah I know what you mean, she should be able to vent. I just worry it could stop people who haven't had one going for one

Oldmum55 Wed 30-Oct-19 17:37:16

If you were older I would have said changes to do with the menopause but obviously not at your age. I guess not having had sex or children would be the main reason, but they often can't locate the cervix easily even in women who have had kids making it painful with all the poking! Again it's down to the nurse's expertise just like when they take a blood sample, some you don't even notice it some give you a bruised swollen arm! But as others have said many will unfortunately not want to repeat the experience.

floatycats Wed 30-Oct-19 19:41:04

Sorry you've had this trauma OP. @FabulouslyGlamorousBat gosh I wonder if gas and air could be requested? My past smears were okay but since then I have suffered the trauma of a botched coil fitting (GP didn't check uterus position and fired the damn coil straight thought the wall of my uterus resulting in GA and surgery the next day), a traumatic MMC requiring painful internals and then surgery and an unsuccessful termination requiring further internals and intervention, my nerves are shot!!! If no one went near my bits ever again, I'd be quite happy!

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