How to Make Your Smear More Comfortable
Last year the Department of Health issued an update on the uptake of cervical screening and sadly the number of women attending their smear tests had dropped for the second year in a row with as many as one in three women not up to date with their smears in some age groups.
There are many reasons for this and we know that discomfort is a major factor in women putting off their smear test, here are some tips to make your smear test more comfortable:
1. Take a friend. Never underestimate the importance of emotional support, someone to chat to in the waiting room and distract you during the examination.
2. Listen to music or watch TV. Nowadays with smart phones, watching a movie or listening to music or a podcast is easy to do in any location. Take your headphones and your phone and get prepared to zone out. And don’t worry, if you do forget your headphones ask the nurse if she minds you watching or listening anyway.
3. Equipment. Ask, if available, for the nurse to use a plastic speculum or a small speculum. Plastic is often warmer than metal and it’s clear so it’s easier for the nurse to see the cervix and a smaller speculum is more comfortable. They aren’t always available but don’t be afraid to ask.
4. Paracetamol. Take a dose of paracetamol 30 minutes before your smear which will take some of the discomfort away.
5. Numbing gel. If all else fails, ask the nurse to use a small amount of numbing gel. Previously there was a concern that the gel would affect the smear cytology but with liquid based cytology which is used nowadays a small amount of gel will not interfere with the quality.
Nurses understand that smears aren’t the most pleasurable of experiences and will often do as much as they can to help the patient. If your smear test is overdue, please don’t delay, book it today.