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Don't Fear The Smear

During Cervical Screening Awareness Week ( 20th-26th June) you'll read lots of stats about why you should go for your smear test, but what should you actually expect? Cervical screening can stop cervical cancer from developing, but we know that the test isn’t always easy.

Read below as we debunk some common myths to help make your screening that little bit more comfortable...

I don't want my GP to do it

You can book a Cervical Screening with any registered practitioner, so if you'd rather it was performed by a woman or someone you don't know, just ask! If you'd rather totally avoid your GP you can also go to a Sexual Health Clinic.

I don't want to go alone

That's fine! If you feel more comfortable you are allowed to bring someone in to support you. The nurse will ensure you're fully covered up.

I've heard there's scraping

First, your nurse or doctor will insert a device called a speculum in order to see the cervix. Then they'll insert a small brush to gently remove some cells. That's it!

It hurts, right?

Most women describe it as a little uncomfortable. If you're really concerned, you can ask for a smaller speculum to be used or ask the nurse about lying in a different position. If you feel uncomfortable don't feel pressured to keep going, you are allowed to stop when you need to!

What actually happens?

You'll be asked to undress from the waist down and cover your bottom half with a sheet - the nurse will either leave the room or ask you to go behind a curtain so they won't see. Once ready you'll be asked to lie back on a bed, usually with your legs bent, feet together and knees apart to spread your pelvis. They'll then insert a lubricated speculum followed by a small brush to gently remove some cells.

It's so awkward!

Your nurse or doctor will talk you through everything and be able to answer any questions you have. They are also totally understanding of your fears, so most have developed some pretty inventive distraction technics!

Why don't you bring a book or some headphones to listen to some music whilst you are having your screening done?

I don't like having to wait for results.

Good news - the NHS aims to get your results to you within 14 days.

What if I'm on my period?

Ideally, it’s preferred that you don’t attend a screening whilst on your period, mid-cycle is best.

I'm still unsure - I have questions!

You can book an appointment with your nurse or doctor before your test to talk it through, or charities like Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust and The Eve Appeal have lots of information, helplines and private online chats!

Get involved on social media by sharing your experiences, tips or any positive messages about screening. You can use the hashtags #CervicalScreeningTip and #CervicalScreeningAwarenessWeek, #CSAW2022

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