Happy weekend! I hope you had a good week! I had a particularly good one as I found out this week that I am going to New York for my birthday at the end of this month and I CANNOT wait. I’ve never been to America let alone New York before so please message me with lots of recommendations!
Another thing that happened to me this week which I wanted to share with you today was the fact I had the smear test done for the first time, as I’m turning 25 this year. For those of you who don’t know, the smear test checks for cervical cancer by swiping the inside of your cervix.
I got a text message at the beginning of this year from my doctors surgery reminding me to call and set up an appointment. Immediately I got anxious about it. Immediately I didn’t want to do it at all. It wasn’t because I was scared to find out the results in case I did have cervical cancer. I’m not a hypochondriac at all, in fact usually I’m quite the opposite in thinking nothing is ever wrong with me health wise and I never go to the doctors. It was completely the thought of getting naked in front of a stranger and that stranger looking very closely at my vagina (even saying the word makes me embarrassed). Perhaps it’s just a British thing (think Miranda Hart) where we can’t say rude words or the word sex with conviction and confidence in public.
Anyway, in the back of my mind when I got that text message I already knew that there’s a stigma and a fear that goes with the smear test. I decided to research more into what happens in the test and why people are so anxious about it, there must be a reason right! I read articles of women that have refused to go for years despite family and friends and their doctor telling them to do it. One quote from an encouraging article that stayed with me was ‘it’s not a test for cancer, it’s a test to help prevent cancer’. Lots of women would say they don’t need to go as they know they definitely don’t have cancer so what’s the point, but as per the quote, it’s a test to help prevent you from ever getting cervical cancer regardless of whether it runs in the family etc.
So in the end, it took me a few months, but I finally booked an appointment a couple of weeks ago and went along yesterday. I had a lovely young female nurse who asked me if this was my first time which it was and she immediately reassured me that this test is nowhere near as bad as it sounds and that it will be absolutely fine.
Girls, it was the easiest thing in the entire world! I can’t believe the stigma around this test that lasted 5 minutes max. I went behind a curtain and took my jeans and knickers off (even that feels embarrassing to write I must admit; pathetic!) then laid down on the bed with a towel covering up my front and my legs up as if I was giving birth. I turned my head to the side and studied a world map (I love that doctors surgeries always have a handy map right in your line of sight to use in time of need!). The nurse very slowly and gently inserted the ‘speculum’ (new word to me!) and before I knew it, it was done. It was not painful at all. Yes you can feel that there was something inside you of course but when you just relax it’s an absolute breeze. It dawned on me while I was laid down with my legs up in a birthing position that if I can’t cope with this then how on earth am I going to cope with actually giving birth because my vagina (sorry) is going to look A LOT worse then with lots more strangers looking at it. The whole appointment took 10 minutes. There hasn’t been any pain or anything abnormal happen since then either. I get the results back in 2 weeks which I’m not nervous about and then don’t have to have another test for 3 years.
Promise me girls that when the time comes, you will book the test! The NHS website has lots of useful information about exactly what the test is about, what it’s for and what happens in the appointment if you want to read up on it before going but I’m telling you it’s so easy and there is nothing to be afraid of at all. I can’t believe the time I wasted in my head worrying about this.
I know it’s not particularly the most pleasant thing to talk about and I apologise if this makes you feel uncomfortable. Most of us feel embarrassed about stripping off in front of a stranger and standing there almost or fully in our birthday suits but as women we need to stand proud of our bodies more. I know it’s not that simple and that we all have body confidence issues at times (sometimes we just don’t want to look at our naked body in the mirror!) but why are we always so willing to hide and feel embarrassed to discuss natural things that happen to our body like periods etc? For the first few years of being with my boyfriend I couldn’t even say the word period in front of him! Pathetic! In the gym I used to take time to do the knicker trick and make sure I’m not showing anyone in the changing room my body. But over the last year or so I just can’t be bothered with it all. I’m not one of those people that glides around the changing room completely naked for the world to see. But when I’m getting changed I will just take my sports bra off facing the wall rather than trying to juggle holding a towel round my whole body as well as trying to put both my arms out of arm holes – it’s pretty complicated and hard work.
So let’s get rid of the embarrassment, the fear, the awkwardness and stand proud of our bodies! We don’t have to love every part of it at all times in the day but we shouldn’t feel we have to hide. Most importantly, PROMISE me girls that you will go and book that smear test if you’ve been putting it off, or hopefully when the time comes you now won’t feel as scared of going.
Lots of love to all you beautiful women xxxx
Ps, don’t worry, I’m not going to post a picture of me in my birthday suit! But here’s a few pictures of my body in a bikini which I’m growing to love ❤