Updated: Apr 15
Don't fear the smear! Say it with meee.. Don't Fear the Smear! One more timeeeee..
DON'T FEAR THE SMEAR!
Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer amongst the female population in Nigeria and worldwide. It is also highly preventable! How? By getting vaccinated against the Human Papillomavirus and by getting a cervical smear test regularly. Sounds great doesn’t it? So why is it that so many women still don’t attend their cervical smear?
There are many reasons.. fear of the smear, a lack of awareness and the multitude of myths surrounding the cervical smear.
This post is dedicated to trying to tackle this by explaining exactly what to expect from your smear test which will hopefully dispel some of the myths and give you the confidence boost you need to empower to go and get yours done.
What is the cervical smear test?
A test used to detect abnormal cell changes in your cervix.
What will happen during the procedure?
It’s usually carried out by a nurse or doctor who willl explain to you what the procedure entails and answer any questions you may have. Sometimes there will be someone else there acting as a chaperone. You can also request a chaperone if it will make you feel more comfortable.
The nurse/doctor will then ask you to lie on the bed in the room, with your knees raised and apart.
They will then put some lubricating jelly on a small device called a speculum and insert this in to the vagina. The speculum opens up the vagina to allow the cervix to be seen.
A small soft brush is then turned in a circular motion to collect some cells from the cervix which is then sent off to the lab to be tested for any abnormal cells
Does it hurt?
This is a common fear! The cervical smear isn’t painful for the vast majority of people although some may find the speculum uncomfortable. For a few women, the presence of a speculum may cause their vaginal muscles to tighten. This is a condition called vaginismus and can make the smear painful and/or difficult to complete.
Try and relax as much as possible and take deep breaths. You’re in control of your cervical smear. If you are too uncomfortable or you’re in pain, you can ask the nurse/doctor to stop!
Does it take long?
Nope, not at all. The cervical smear appointment tends to be shorter than your normal doctor's appointments. The procedure itself lasts only a few minutes!
What if I feel too embarrassed?
You’re not alone! Many women feel embarrassed or self-conscious about the cervical smear especiallyy their first one. That being said you have absolutely nothing to feel embarrassed about!
The health care professionals carrying out the procedures are highly experienced and have carried out the procedure many times.
You can request a man or a woman depending on your preferences and what will make you feel more comfortable.
You can also take someone you trust along to the appointment with you. A friendly face can help ease your anxiety!
What happens if my results are abnormal?
You'll be happy to know that the vast majority of cervical screening results are normal. Furthermore, an abnormal result, DOES NOT mean you have cervical cancer. In fact, the vast majority of abnormal results are not due to cancerous cells but what we call pre-cancerous cells i.e. they have the potential to develop into cancer. Detecting these cells allow them to be treated before they can develop into cancer hence why cervical screening is so important!
So now you know what to expect from the smear, book your smear test NOW!
Thanks so much for reading!
Lots of love to you all,
From your friends at SHAKE Africa