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31st July 2020

How to Make Your Smear More Comfortable

Around 600,000 smear tests that would have normally been carried out in UK during April and May 2020 were cancelled or delayed due to Coronavirus. This does not include the. 1.5 million people who were overdue before the pandemic.'(Source: Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.)

It is extremely important to attend your regular cervical screening when due, it helps save approximately 5,000 lives a year.

We know that discomfort is a major factor in women putting off their smear, here are some tips to make your smear test more comfortable.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. Count from 1 to 100: Paula Radcliffe used to use this strategy towards the end of her marathon and many patients have found it useful. Often the smear is done well before you get to 50.

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.  If your smear test is overdue, please don’t delay, book it today with your GP or gynaecologist.

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