An Anxious Girl's Guide To Your First Smear Test - Preparing For The Screening

24 Jan 2020

I'm definitely not finished with my suggestive fruit stock images yet, friends! Welcome back to another instalment of my anxious girl's guide to your first smear test - the one where we have a chat about the lead up to getting your test. If you're new to this little series, make sure you go along and check out my first post, which is all about booking your cervical smear appointment when you've got phone anxiety.

For me, the lead up wasn't the most anxiety-inducing part. In fact, it probably was the phone call aspect that really got my nerves up, but towards the day of my test, I did start to get a bit jumpy. I was worried about being late, getting the day wrong, what the nurse would think of the way my hoo-ha looked, how it was going to feel, amongst so many other things. And it's easier said than done, but thinking like this isn't helpful to you at all!

While this post could be pretty helpful to other people who live with anxiety (or anyone who is just looking for a friendly voice surrounding this topic), I'm definitely no expert or no doctor. I'm just some girl who had her first test and wanted to share her experience, so if you have any other queries or worries, cervical cancer charity, Jo's Trust, have a great support section on their site where you may be able to find some answers!

Preparing yourself for the day of the screening

You've booked your test - well done, you! That means that it's time to face the music and prepare yourself for the day, which can be pretty daunting in itself. Sure, the day can be anxiety-inducing, but the lead up is a whole other kettle of fish. As I mentioned, I didn't get super nervous during the lead up until a day or so before the screening, but that's because I did a few little things that helped me to feel a bit more comfortable and chilled out.

Of course, don't take my word as gospel. These suggestions won't suit absolutely everyone's needs, but they worked for me and helped me to keep my nerves down, so take a read and see if you fancy having a go of any.

Travel past your surgery a couple of times
I'm lucky in that my surgery is just a short walk from my house and I have the option of walking through my favourite park to get there. From the time of booking my appointment to the actual day, I had about a week and a half to kill, so I walked past my surgery a couple of times, just as a reassurance to myself that I knew where I was going, where the doors are and how long it might take me to get there.

Hold yourself accountable
This isn't as scary as it sounds, I promise. Sometimes, by saying or writing that you've booked your test, you're almost making a bit of a promise to yourself and whoever else may hear/see your claim. This can be as simple as writing in a journal, posting a tweet, doing a little bit of an Insta story or even just telling a friend or family member. By putting it out into the world past your own mind, you're kind of making a little pact to go through with it!

Buy yourself something new to wear on the day
This may sound a little bit stupid, but in order to feel confident, I decided to treat myself to a new skirt - mainly because I know that wearing a skirt makes the test a lot easier, but also because I've always wanted to rock a midi skirt in my every day life, so I treated myself. And do you know what? I did rock my skirt, and I felt so sassy and confident. Of course, you don't have to buy a skirt. You could pick up a new top, some cool shoes or a piece of jewellery.

Get to know your own body a bit
Right, this is definitely not going to appeal to everyone, but hear me out. I've never taken a proper look at my hoo-ha before and I figured that this situation was a good time to take a peek - that way, I could see what the nurse was going to see. I know it sounds weird, but honestly, putting my leg up on the side of the bath and holding a mirror below me so that I could really get a good look was quite the turning point for me. It made me realise that my downstairs really isn't that spectacular and the nurse probably won't care.

Chat to friends, family or social media buddies
It's obvious, I know, but there is safety in numbers, and by hearing other positive smear stories, your mind will be much more at ease. Plus, when you've had yours, you'll be able to add your voice to theirs and possibly even help someone else go through their screening.

Watch Zoella's live screening video
Whether you're a fan of Zoella or not, her live screening video is definitely worth a watch. I hadn't watched a video of hers for ages, but when I saw people talking about this particular one, I was intrigued. In it, she films herself going for her cervical smear and asking common questions to the nurse. It's a really insightful video and I honestly commend her for doing it. It was something that I re-visited during the lead up to my test, so definitely take a look!
The lead up isn't a smooth ride for everyone and it's definitely not a one-size-fits-all kind of situation (pardon the expression), but take it day by day, and you'll be totally fine. Give a couple of my suggestions a go and maybe even see if anyone else has any ideas on how to calm your nerves during the build up to the day. I absolutely recommend buying yourself a little something to wear on the day though, because that boosted my confidence like nothing else!

It's also totally worth remembering that you aren't alone in this. I know it can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders and it's hard to see past your worry, but there are millions of women who have made this journey before you, and millions who will make it after you. Seek people out and talk about the lead up and preparation that they did.

I really hope that this post has been somewhat helpful to at least one person or if you've come along for a little snoop as someone who has already had a smear, why not drop your tips in the comments below?

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