Tag Archives: cervicalcheck

Apology Not Accepted.

This arrived yesterday.

I had a smear test which I was told I needed to, in the wake of the cervicalcheck scandal. I had been told to get one in the run up to the Repeal referendum last May, but delayed it for practical reasons, and the because I was scared.

It was December before I screwed up my courage and got it done. I needed it done as the all clear I had gotten after an abnormal smear may have been a false result and I could have had cells become cancerous and spread over the intervening 3 years from the first abnormal test.

Which meant the more time passed I was possible moving passed the window were non surgical treatments were an option. There is a history of several cancers in my family including this one.

The date on the letter shows when I had the test done, the 21st of December 2018 and the date I rang my GP and the Practice nurse told me the results was the 9th of August 2019, over 7 months. I was given the all clear, but I still have my concerns, my trust has been eroded.

I had my first smear at 19, I advocated and educated about them for years, in person and online. I welcomed the Cervical Check service when it was rolled out, but it left me in frankly mental and emotional anguish for over 7 months.

Over 7 months of trying not to think about it, over 7 months of worry and heartache and what if. Over 7 months of Schrodinger cancer inside me.  Over 7 months of desperately trying not to disassociate when I thought about it or when it was mentioned in the news.

Over 7 months of fretting I would have to have surgery and what impact it would have on me in my life. Over 7 months of worrying, my name may be added to the list of women who have and who are dying due to the lack of oversight in running what is a much needed service for anyone with a womb.

I am still working through all of this, I am relived but so damn fucking angry. So no, Apology Not Accepted.



Smear tests, a few things you may not have known….

So I read the bit on Beaut.ie about smear test this morning, but found it a little light on info, so rather then complain about it I decided to write my own bit. Here goes.

Why do we need smear tests?
Well our bodies keep replacing our cells, it’s part of what it does and some parts of the body do that replacement more then others, our skin replaces it’s selfa lot. The cells which make up our cervix’s (neck/entrance of the womb) get replaced fairly frequently. When this happens there is a chance that they won’t copy themselves properly due to a few things and if that is left unchecked it can be an issue.

What few things?
Being on hormonal contraception is a factor and so is being sexually active, but even women who aren’t in a sexual relationship or haven’t been for a while should get a smear test, yes even nuns need them.

So to be able to get a sample of cells from our cervix, the person doing your smear test as to be able to see it and what is were speculum come in. Yes that weird contraption which looks like a duck beak.

Did you know they come in a range of sizes?
They do, there are at least 3 sizes and there are ones which have different curve on them as well.
Too many women put up with pain when having a smear test when at the most it should be no more then uncomfortable. Also there are now plastic speculum which are more comfortable then the unyeilding metal ones.

When you are having your next smear test done ladies, talk to the Dr or practice nurse about the speculum, let’s face it, if you are going to be on intimate terms with one, it’s best that it’s one which fits and knowing which one is best for you makes it easier. My practice nurse does my smears and it’s marked on my file which one is to be used and if I ever need to go else were or another member of staff as to give me a smear I know what one fits best.

Ok lets talk about lube.
Lube should always be used when a speculum is being inserted, often a coating of lube will be applied out your sight, but some of it will remain inside you after the speculum is removed and well, what goes in will come out. So if you are going for a smear, bring a panty liner to put on afterwards.
Also, there is such a thing as too much lube. Too much lube on a speculum will have it shifting about inside you unable to do it’s job (which is to hold open the walls of your vagina), if you feel the speculum sliding to much say it to the person doing your smear.

We shouldn’t be just laying back and not being involved, not asking questions, esp when it’s something so intimate as a smear test. Health professionals need our consent and as ever informed consent is the best kind. There is also the model of smear taking which involves ladies inserting the speculum ourselves. Slipping it in as comfortable as we can and then calling in the health professional to open it up and get to work. Seriously if this may work better for you then talk to your dr or nurse about it.

In other countries having a smear test includes a general exam of the area, that is not always the case here but you can bring up any concerns you have, or bumps you want looked at. Part of the procedure also these days includes a swab for Chlamydia, which makes sense as it’s the most common sti,
easily treatable but some women can have it and have no symptoms so it was added to what happens when you have a smear test done.

Post smear cramping.
Some women get it, some do not, I know someone who does and so makes her appointments for late afternoon so she can go home to a hot water bottle, having a post smear plan to unwind and treat yourself after can make it all go easier.

The fear of an abnormal smear.
There is a history in my family re issues with abnormal smears, but I had never had one until the last year. I had my first smear near 20 years go, have always kept up having them and then got the dreaded letter. I have to admit I did get a bit freaked but when I rang my practice nurse she explained that they detection methods have gotten better so that looking at my results they were only slightly abnormal and with that she just booked me a repeat smear in 6 months. The next result was normal.

If you get an abnormal result, there’s no reason to panic, even if you get a second one it’s not a big deal and even if you do need treatment there is a series of steps which get taken long before the word cancer ever has to be uttered. That is the thing about smear tests, they are an awesome early warning system, which is why they are so important.

Unfortunately it’s been one of those things which for so long we didn’t talk about, we didn’t share the tips and tricks which can make it easier.

If you want more information or to sign up to the Cervical Check program which offers free smear tests to women over the age of 25 (I think 25 is too late tbh, if you are sexually active you should have it done) or to find how to find a health professional if your own Dr doesn’t do them then the website is