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Thursday, 29 March 2012

Let's talk smear tests...

 Please take take to read a very important post
This is a different sort of post for me. It doesn't involve any make-up reviews, fashion or baking, and I guess it isn't too nice a subject to discuss...perhaps a little embarrassing and personal. I'm really worried how this sort of post will sit with many of you, but I feel it's really important to discuss. This week, although only about to turn 22, I had to have a smear test. I won't go in to details as to why I had to have it so early, but I had to have it, and was beyond nervous. I literally felt like I could have passed out at the doctors, and was a shaky, nervous wreck! Let's be honest, the thought of a stranger poking around your most private of areas is not something that anyone would look forward to! However, I knew it was for the good of my health, so I had to be a grown up and just get on with it!

Now I had a lovely nurse, who made me feel really comfortable and explained to me everything that she was doing, step by step. She was really good at trying to make me feel like I hadn't lost all dignity, and kept me covered so I didn't feel exposed....although I was very conscious that my legs were open and there was a massive light shining down on me. What happens next, is that a speculum is inserted and widened to around 10cm until the cervix can be seen. Now this was my biggest worry....I've heard horror stories and thought it would really hurt, but it didn't at all. It felt quite uncomfortable, and you can definitely feel it there, but it most definitely didn't hurt. The swab stick, which looks like a massive cotton bud with a little brush is then inserted and swept along the surface of the cervix to gather cells. This feels a little strange, and you're very conscious that there is something down there that doesn't quite feel right!

Once this has happened, the brush is removed, the speculum closed and gently removed, and wallah! That is it. It really isn't painful at all, and after having my first smear, I feel concerned for the women that miss their smear test because they feel it will hurt or be embarrassing. Yes, it is a little embarrassing, but the nurse sees ladies private areas for a living, so really, it's nothing she hasn't seen! It was over within less than ten minutes, and I instantly felt better, just knowing that I had completed a step that may better my health.

In England, you are invited for a smear test from the age of 25 in order to check the cells of the cervix. Having a smear test can show whether there are any abnormal cells, and these can be treated so they don't become cancerous....that's why they're so, so important. I think we all remember Jade Goody, who unfortunately missed a smear test which could have saved her life. She was so young, which shows that just because we're in our 20's, we're not invincible to cancer. There was a huge rise in women of similar age having smear tests at the time of Jade Goody's highly publicised diagnosis, but unfortunately, the statistics show that three years after her death, this has dropped again, and 1 in 5 British women are risking their health by not having a smear test.  The NHS state that 2,900 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed every year in the UK, and since the 1980's smear tests have contributed to the drop in cervical cancer cases by 7%. So why aren't women going for their smear test?

If you are due a smear test, are due the dreaded letter, or will be having your first smear in a few years, please remember it really is ok. It can save your life, so please, please go!