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Smear Test Problems(9 Posts)
Has anyone got any experience of having a smear test after sexual abuse?
I left a mentally abusive relationship 10 years ago (my ex also raped me at the beginning of our relationship, I was young and stupid and he made me feel like I was the one in the wrong)
I haven't had a smear test since before I go into that relationship, so probably 12 years, and I had no issues when I did have one.
Since then I have tried to have a smear but it has been physically impossible, last time I tried was about a year ago, I took my DH for support but the nurse just couldn't get the speculum in & it was really painful. I left feeling humiliated and broke down on the way home.
I know I am taking risks with my health & every time I see those adverts telling you to get a smear I feel sick & stupid for not being able to do it It's not embarrassment that puts me off, it's just not been physically possible for the nurse to do it.
I thought a sexual health clinic might be more understanding than the gp but they don't seem to offer that in my area, does anyone know of anywhere where I can get some help or support?
Sorry for the long post but it's been worrying me for ages & I'd really appreciate any advice
What you're feeling is very normal. Jo's Trust wrote a blog post about it last year and there is a specialist clinic at Mile End Hospital in London, plus another in Glasgow run by the My Body Back project.
The private healthcare providers (Bupa, Spire etc) all offer the service, although you might find it even more nerve-wracking knowing that if you can't go through with it on the day you're out of pocket for 100 quid.
You might want to start off with a self-sample for the HPV virus. Superdrug do one for example. This would help you assess your level of risk better and let you think about next steps. A mild sedative might help you to be able to get through it?
I would also talk to Jo's Trust to seek advice - and to allow them to reinforce the fact that women are being let down by poor access to specialist services for those in need of more support to access screening. The public health campaign drives me mad with its emphasis on 'it's your fault for not going' without any attempt to address the many underlying causes. Your lifetime risk of developing cervical cancer is 1 in 142.
I'd also speak to your local sexual health clinic directly and see if they can do a smear, even if they don't advertise it.
Thank you for the reply, I feel less like I'm being overly sensitive now.
Unfortunately I am nowhere near London or Glasgow so that isn't an option. I've tried contacting my local sexual health clinic but they don't have an email address & it's not something I'd feel comfortable to talk about over the phone.
I've considered the home tests but my worry is it would come back positive and then I'd be even more worried than I am already but I think that might be the way to go for now.
I've also emailed Jo's Trust for advice so thank you for that suggestion
Can you ask about taking a light sedative before hand. I'm sure your GP would prescribe.
Or, can you ask if you can insert the speculum yourself?
Is your local sexual health clinic part of a hospital? The hospital should have a 'PALS' team (patient advice and liaison service) who do have an email address.
I've considered the home tests but my worry is it would come back positive
Well, it might - although it probably won't. You can choose what to do with the information when you have it, whereas at the moment you are worrying because you don't have it.
mustdrivesoon 's suggestions are also good, and worth a try. If you do end up having the sample taken in your practice, you need the most experienced sample taker there, do you know if it was a senior nurse that you saw last time?
Thank you both for your advice.
The last time I saw a normal nurse but she fetched the senior nurse when she couldn't do it but I think I was already too stressed by that point. Also the senior nurse asked me twice while trying if I'd recently had a baby which was odd (I don't have any children) the second time she said "and you definitely haven't given birth recently" as if I might have a new born I'd forgotten about?!
The sexual health clinic is separate from the hospital unfortunately.
I think I'm going to order the home test and then decide what to do based on the results of that.
I struggle with any smear tests/examinations etc and I find honesty works. I say to the nurse/doctor before hand "please be patient with me, I have a horrible past" and they usually know exactly what I mean. Sorry you've been through what you've been through, you really do need your smear test though
Thank you guys, I have done a hpv test and it's come back negative for the cancer causing strains of HPV so I've booked privately to have the vaccine.
I know it doesn't mean I don't need to ever have a physical examination but it least puts my mind at rest