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Must Know

Going for your First Smear Test: What to Expect

Jan 20, 2021 · 6 min read

For a lot of women, having a pap test or smear test (as it’s commonly referred to in the UK) can seem very daunting.
It can be intimidating, a teeny bit
too personal and not to mention scary. We totally get it, but the truth is, girls, having a smear test can save your life. We promise it's not that bad.

As part of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, we’re here to let you in on all the bits you need to know about having your first smear. From the initial swab to getting your results, we've got you covered.

Going for your first smear test


Going For Your First Smear Test


We'll let you in on a little secret - smear tests are totally painless (and breathe!). They’re super fast and simple to do and you’ll be in and out in 5 minutes! If you’re due to have your first smear test, we know it can bring about a lot of questions and worries, so we’re here to answer all the questions you may have about the big day.

It’s always good to take care of your lady bits, girls. After all, Mother Nature worked pretty hard on making us this amazing. So, let’s get to it.

 

What is a smear test?


A smear test or ‘pap test’ is a cervical screening procedure used to identify any abnormal cells that may be present within the cervix. It’s important to remember that a smear test
isn’t a test for cancer, girls. It’s a test to help prevent cancer.

 


What does a smear test for?


A smear test will test for abnormalities in the cervix, also known as ‘high risk’ types of HPV that may later develop into cancerous cells. Everyone can develop HPV at some point in their lives and a lot of the time, our bodies naturally clear of the virus within a few years. However, some types of HPV can be a little bit nasty and can turn into cancerous cells - which is why it’s important to go to
every smear test you’re invited to attend! 



What age should you have your first smear test?


All women in the UK are invited to have a smear test from the age of 25. You should receive a letter from your GP up to six months before your 25th birthday inviting you to book your appointment. We know it can be scary but don’t put it off, girls. It can save your life. Make sure you encourage your besties to get theirs booked in too!

Remember, girls: if you're worried about any physical symptoms you're experiencing associated with cervical cancer, it's important to talk to your GP, regardless of your age.

 


What happens during a smear test?


We get it, we adore our bodies, girls. So having someone in our personal space might seem a bit out of sorts. Remember, you can request for a female nurse or GP to carry out the smear if it makes you feel more comfortable.

So, here we go…and no, we aren’t going to spare you any of the details. It’s all important!

Firstly, you will be asked to remove your bottoms and lie on the examination bed. The nurse or GP will then place a paper sheet over you. Once you’re nice and cosy, you will then be asked to bend your knees at a 90 degree angle. The nurse or GP will then insert a lubricated speculum slowly into your vagina which will allow them to see the opening of the cervix. Remember, if it’s a little uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for some more lubricant.

The clinician will then take a swab of your cervix using a soft brush to collect a small sample of your cells - these will then be tested in the lab. Some women may find that they bleed a little during their first smear but this is totally normal. The cervix is super sensitive, so any irritation can cause some light bleeding. This should clear within a few hours but if it continues, it’s always best to seek advice from your GP.



How long does a smear test take?


A smear test doesn’t actually take that long, so you won't have to worry about being at the doctor's surgery for over an hour. The actual procedure takes about five minutes so you should be in and out in a flash. You might even have some time to Lounge a little (as if we need an excuse!)

 

When is the best time to have a smear test?


You should get your smear test booked in as soon as your letter arrives in the post. Don’t delay it, girls. It’s quick, super easy and you’ll be wondering what all the worrying was about!



Can you have a smear test whilst on your period?


Unfortunately not. You should wait for your period to finish before going for your first smear, or any smear for that matter. Your GP will always be happy to reschedule your appointment.

So, in the meantime, you can Lounge all you like (and maybe get some snacks in) before your smear is due.



How often should I have a smear test?


Congratulations, you did it! Your first smear test is over. It’s time to kick back and get some Lounging in - you deserve it, after all. But that doesn’t mean you should delay any future smears.

Women between the ages of 25 to 49 will be invited for a smear test every three years. Women 50 to 64 will be invited every five years whilst women 65 or older will be invited once if their last three tests were abnormal. Remember, girls, abnormal cells are not always caused by cervical cancer and can usually be treated quickly and painlessly.



What happens if my result is abnormal?


We know it’s easier said than done but if your smear test shows some abnormalities, it’s important to take a deep breath and try not to worry. Abnormal cells do not mean you have cervical cancer, but we know it can cause a little bit of anxiety. Remember, you’re strong and you’ve got this, no matter what the world throws at you.

 

Slightly abnormal or mild changes


Most abnormal results from cervical screening are a result of minor changes (also known as low-grade dyskaryosis) which often goes back to normal over time. Having regular smear tests will monitor these changes, so try not to worry! 

However, sometimes, smear tests can identify some more irregular changes.

 

(Abnormal) Moderate to severe changes


Sometimes, a smear test can detect moderate to severe changes in the cervix. This is known as high-grade dyskaryosis. If your GP suspects this, you will be invited for a colposcopy for further tests which looks at the overall health of your cervix more closely.

Again, this is a fairly quick and painless procedure and your clinician will always do everything they can to make you feel comfortable.

Having a smear test
The main message here is…don’t delay your smear, girls. We know it’s worrying and it’s totally not what we want to be doing during our spare time, but it’s important that you take care of your body. Remember, regular smear tests help prevent cervical cancer and your lady bits deserve all the TLC in the world. Don’t put it off!

We’re always here for you, no matter what. We love you, Loungers.

Whilst we're talking about lady bits, you might want to get to know your boobs a little bit more too. They are your besties, after all.



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