I turned 25 yesterday. TWENTY BLEEDIN’ FIVE.
This means I am teetering on the edge of mid-twenties, ok let’s stop kidding myself, I ain’t on the edge of mid-twenties, I am in ’em. Which doesn’t mean too much really, in fact I enjoy growing older. More adventures under my belt, I get to know myself a little better and learn to love myself a little more.
Alas, what turning 25 does mean is your first cervical screening (smear test). I received my letter a few months back. I then proceeded to move gaff, register to the docs (pat on the back for life admin) and finally get my screening booked in.
I was a little bit nervous for it. Mostly because it is a bit odd having a stranger all up in your grill and retrieving cells from ya cervix. Feeling like an awkward Winnie the Pooh with socks perched on the bed, struggling to totally relax as the speculum approaches…
Alas, it was absolutely fine. The lady was wonderful and put me totally at ease, and although it feels a little bit bizarre, it is over within minutes.
A few weeks later I received my letter.
I said something along the lines of…
The laboratory found some slightly abnormal cells called low grade dyskaryosis (mild changes to the cervical cells). This result does not mean you have cancer. These slightly abnormal cells can be caused by a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV).
Basically, ya gal has a few odd cells, a touch of HPV and they need a closer look to nip anything in the bud if needs be.
I read the letter, played it cool, moments later burst into floods of tears. Finding out that something ain’t quite right is scary, and it is OK to feel uneasy.
Ya never think anything will come of these routine checks, but actually 8 out of 10 will be infected with HPV at some point in their lives, so it is pretty damn common really.
The next stage is summin’ called a ‘colposcopy‘ which sounds a bit grim, doesn’t it?
Basically, like your smear you hope up onto the bed and this time the nurse uses a microscope with a light to take a closer look at your cervix. Liquids are applied to the cervix to highlight any abnormal areas. And a small sample of tissue may be taken for closer examination. This part sent shivers down my spine. A sample, of my cervix?
After many chinwags with fellow women over the medium of Instagram stories, I decided to take you with me to the colposcopy. Not to freak ya out, just to give you a walk through of what it is like – in case you get the letter through and need to go yourself.
It is sometimes nice to know exactly what to expect, isn’t it?
So here goes…
My colposcopy appointment actually landed on my 25th birthday. Lol. What a way to welcome in your mid-twenties ey?
I did think about re-arranging it for another date, but figured I may as well get it over and done with. Like a weird NHS spa treatment? Nah, nope, not even in the slightest.
My Mumma came along with me, following a morning of present opening, tea drinking and cake eating. So it wasn’t all bad…
We were seen pretty pronto, there was a lovely doctor and assistant to greet us. We sat down and chatted through the results of my smear test, then she explained the procedure and did a pretty good job of putting me at ease.
I then swanned off behind the curtain and donned a sassy sheet sarong, perched on the chair and attempted a bit of yoga inspired breathing techniques. There was a poster of dolphins (like the kinda one you had in your room when you were 7) sellotaped to the ceiling… I think to calm nerves? Anyway, in with the camera.
Firstly, the doctor complimented my cervix was, apparently it is ‘nice‘ so that’s good to know… It looks a bit like a suspect doughnut to me. (V sorry if you are currently eating a doughnut 🍩) At this point I was feeling just a *little* faint. There is something about seeing your insides that freaks me out, so I just attempted to relax and let the doc have a closer look.
She ended up taking two samples of my cervix for closer examination. It feels like a weird pinch, but not really painful at all. Of course, it is a strange and fairy uncomfortable situ – but really isn’t that bad. My advice would be to close your eyes, breath deeply and try your best to let your body relax… Easier said that done I know.
After it was all over (probs 7 mins-ish in total), I slipped off the chair and popped my jeans back on. FYI, deffo recommend a skirt or dress just for a bit of ease, oh and a pad to pop in after just in case of spotting. We then had a little look at the photographs taken of the lil gaggle of strange cells, discussed the plan for the next stages (gotta wait about a month for results) and we went on our merry way.
Despite feeling faint and a bit squeamish throughout, a cuppa T, left over Easter eggs and a couple of ibuprofen on the sofa did the trick.
If you have received your letter inviting you for a smear test, please get your tush along to the docs and book yourself in. I promise you it will be absolutely fine, and it is so bloody important to protect yourself and prevent any nasty occurrences in the future. If they need to see you again for further tests? Kewl, it is normal to be abnormal. You’ve got this.