Fear of the smear?

Dr. George Nicholas Papanicolaou. A name which has the connotations of a designer who showcased his wares at the latest London Fashion Week. A clothing designer he is not, however, he did something more pioneering by developing what we now know as the Pap smear, now you can see where the name came from people -every day is a school day.Considering I recently had mine (I am all for overshare here) I thought about why some women avoid this test or become a bit like OH FUCK about it.

For a lot of us vagina owners this test is a fuss-free task, get in there, get the knickers off, allow a stranger to take some cells and voila off to work you go. For others, this procedure can provoke a feeling of dread which could be vaguely related to the idea of somebody being THAT close to your intimate areas/social reasons/ethical reasons/religious reasons or the possibility that the result of this ten-minute event could change your life.

Both fears are perfectly justified however the second holds a lot more weight. To give you some reassurance cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. This cancer manifests in the lower part or ‘neck’ of the uterus where it joins the inner end of the vagina known as the cervix. Now I didn’t pay attention in biology and haven’t experienced the joy of pushing a small human out of my bits as of yet so startlingly surprised I have managed to get to 31 years old not being a pro in female anatomy, however, I definitely know where my cellulite is for fuck sakes.

If you take nothing else from this ramble please take at least this part – cervical cancer is preventable. You may ask why? Well, the purpose of the Pap smear test is to detect changes in the cervix early before cervical cancer develops. The Pap smear can also detect if cervical cancer is already present. Which overall is positive, this means your health practitioner can act on the abnormal cells as soon as they are detected.

During your delightful spreading of legs whilst wearing a paper towel over your lady garden (which doesn’t cover anything it’s literally to stop you feeling less like you are butt naked ) cells are collected from the surface of the cervix using a spatula. This isn’t painful it’s just a tad weird and the weirdness only lasts for a couple of minutes. The cells taken from the spatula are smeared onto a slide and sent off to a lab where they are tested for cellular abnormalities using the Pap test.

If you are somebody who has been attending regular smears but dislikes them, have been invited to attend for a smear but shoves the paper in the trash can or if you are going for your very first one and are frankly terrified -here are some bits of info to act as a bit of a cuddle/ rub of the hand/shoving you into the G.P room from me.

-Cervical screening can be provided through your G.P, community or women’s health center, family planning clinic, sexual health clinic

-If you are sexually active it is advised you have a smear test every few years this can vary between every 2/3 years (depending on where you live) from the ages of 18 –  69/70

-Screening is for women without symptoms. If you are concerned about any symptoms, such as unusual bleeding, discharge or pain, see your health professional asap

-You can totes request a female practitioner to do the Pap smear so don’t freak out if your usual G.P is a bloke

-If you are worried about being starkers just remember the people who are all up in your space do this for a job, seriously they would have seen sooooo much more shit (sometimes literally)

-Aside from the naked thing, you may also be a bit weary of something going up ‘there’. Without pulling any punches let’s face it you have probably had a lot worse things e.g hot bloke may have been hot but being in the skud maybe couldn’t  guarantee a text back whereas this can save your life

-Ask questions. Ask people who have had one what it’s like,  ask your G.P thirty detailed questions, ask Google if you need too! Being informed can be the best mindset ever when you are going to do something for the first time . Guaranteed there are no silly questions when it comes to looking after your health .

For further information have a stalk on

http://www.cancerscreening.gov.au/internet/screening/publishing.nsf/content/cervical-screening-1

 

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