I’ll come clean. I had a not-so-great experience with a smear test a few years ago. It was, in fact, the test that discovered I have a tilted cervix! The nurse was very sweet, but after clicking the speculum open, she frowned, and then after an uncomfortable minute or so fiddling around, she announced that she couldn’t get a fix on my cervix — which was when I learned all about tilted cervixes.
My nurse then switched to a longer speculum and the test was over in an instant, but all that adjusting had caused a bit of a bleed…which led to a recall as the test was unreadable, which is why you don’t get your test during your period! So – when I went back for that next test I did feel a little uptight, and as I hopped on the couch, I felt my knees creeping together! But once I said I needed the longer speculum, I was in and out in less than 5 minutes. After such a positive experience, I’ve had no more anxieties. So here’s my no-fail relaxation tips to see you through your smear test with a smile…**
1. About a week before your test, lie down somewhere quiet and run through the whole smear test experience in your mind. Go through the whole thing, from leaving home or work, then waiting in the waiting room, going in, chatting with the nurse, straight through to the actual test lasting less than a few minutes and then walking away, feeling happy and positive. Run through this in your mind a few times before you go. By the time the test actually happens, it will feel familiar and you’ll be relaxed.
2. Go to your ‘happy place’! Think back to somewhere you felt completely relaxed and happy. It may have been on a beach on holiday, it could even be somewhere in your imagination, just close your eyes and focus your mind on exploring that place. Think about the sounds, the feeling of the breeze or the sunshine on your skin. Imagine feeling completely happy and relaxed there. Practice this before you go and then start thinking about it in the waiting room. Your body may be on the couch, but your mind can take you far away, to somewhere you feel more relaxed.
3. If you lie on the couch and feel tense, don’t be afraid to ask the nurse or doctor to wait for a moment until you feel calm. If you do tense up, focus on your breathing. Take a slow deep breath in, hold it for a few seconds and then breathe out slowly. Repeat a few times and then imagine your body relaxing into the couch and going limp. The more relaxed you are, the easier it will be.
4. Arrange something fantastic to do afterwards… whether it’s having a facial, lunch with a mate, or just a small treat like a new lipstick, a magazine or even a bar of your favourite chocolate, focus on the good times ahead and remember – the test takes almost no time at all and it’s usually completely painless.
5 . Be prepared. If you know what lies ahead, there’s nothing to fear. And whatever happens, it almost certainly won’t be as embarrassing as my mates’ stories which I’ll share in another post!
** OK – maybe not a smile – but at least not a grimace!
Find Out More:
The NHS cervical screening website.