How to Prepare for Your Cervical Screening Exam

As stated on the NHS website, In the UK., All women and people with a cervix between the ages of 25 - 64 will be invited for regular cervical screening exam. 

How often will you be invited for your screening? 

25 or under - will be invited for your first smear up to six months before you turn 25 

25 - 49 - every three years

50 - 64 - every five years

65 and over - if one of your last three tests came back abnormal 

Cervical Screening Exams, also known as smear tests, can be really daunting for a lot of women. I’ve recently had my first smear test. However, it took me almost a year to work up the courage to book my first smear test and go to the appointment. 

I received three letters inviting me to book an appointment after turning 25. And in that time, I kept putting it off and making excuses as to why I hadn’t booked an appointment. It was only after speaking to my mum that I finally booked my first smear - and it wasn’t half as bad as I thought it would be! 

You see and hear how important smear tests are, but even so, that doesn’t stop the feelings of embarrassment and anxiousness, does it? 

Below are 6 (hopefully helpful) ways that you can prepare for your smear test: 
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Wear Loose-Fitting Clothing 

You will be asked to remove the bottom half of your clothing during the test, and you will be given a paper sheet to put over your legs. If the thought of undressing your bottom half makes you feel really anxious or embarrassed, you could wear a long skirt or a dress to your appointment instead. Wearing these may help you to feel more comfortable during the test as you won’t have to take them off. 

If you don’t have either of those then you could always take a blanket or a shawl to your appointment to cover yourself with instead. 

Book a Longer/Double Appointment

If you’re feeling anxious about your smear test, when you ring up to book your smear it’s worth asking whether you can book a double appointment! Having a longer appointment will allow you more time to ask questions and will mean that you can take your time - both of which will help you to feel calmer throughout the appointment. 

Not all GP surgeries can accommodate these, but it is worth asking if yours does! 

Talk to the Doctor or Nurse Before or During the Appointment

If you’re feeling nervous, unsure or embarrassed, then talk to the nurse or doctor! Ask them questions, explain to them how you’re feeling, and they will be able to offer you support. They are there to answer any questions. Take the time to get that reassurance if you feel it’ll be beneficial for you. 

When I had my smear test, I was really anxious, and I asked the nurse if she could talk me through the test and explain what happens after. Knowing exactly what was going to happen really did help to make me less nervous! 

Request a Smaller Speculum Before or During the Test

Speculums come in different sizes. Whether you’ve had an examination with a speculum before or not, it’s essential to know that you can request to try a different size if the standard size feels uncomfortable for you. 

Take a Trusted Person With You

If you think you’d feel more comfortable having a trusted person with you, then bring somebody along to the appointment for support. Then it’s up to you as to whether you’d like them to sit in the waiting from or come with you into the examination room! Sometimes it helps to keep you calm to have somebody with you. 
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Ask for a Female Doctor or Nurse

This is something you can request when you book an appointment. If you’d feel more comfortable with a female, then make sure to ask if there is one available to do the test. Likewise, if you have a particular doctor or nurse that you trust, you could always ask if they are able to do the test! 

When I initially rang up to book the appointment, I was fortunate enough to be booked in with a female nurse. However, if the appointment had been booked with a male doctor or nurse, I would’ve requested a female for the appointment instead. 

Smear tests aren’t something that any woman finds comfortable or pleasant, but it is so important to book in and have yours done when it’s due! 

Something to remember- albeit uncomfortable and a little bit awkward, the test itself takes seconds. And it’s those few seconds that continue to save lives. 

Ladies, you hear it all the time, and I’m going to remind you again - Don’t fear the smear xx
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