Belfast Telegraph

I've never had a smear test

Fiona Caine is here to help if you have a relationship, sexual, marriage or family problem.

This may sound unusual for a woman with three children, but I am due to have my first cervical smear test.

My children were all born abroad and I’ve always managed to avoid the examination.

I am hugely embarrassed and scared at the thought of having such a test but my doctor has insisted I do because of persistent back pain.

I am in my late thirties so I know I am well overdue for this and I feel rather ignorant and a bit silly for being so afraid.

I don’t want to discuss it with my doctor, but how can I find out what will happen, what it will (or will not) show up and what happens next if they do spot anything? PG

FIONA SAYS: EXPLAIN YOUR CONCERNS TO YOUR GP

While I would wish you could talk to your GP, I can understand your reluctance to do so.

Would you feel more comfortable talking to a woman? If that's the problem, ask to speak to a woman doctor and to have the examination done with her. Failing that, ask to speak to a practice nurse. I am sure if your surgery knew how concerned and anxious you felt, it would make the time for someone to talk to you thoroughly.

To explain briefly, you will have an internal examination where a sample of the cells around the neck of your womb are collected and sent for testing.

It is perhaps uncomfortable but shouldn't be painful unless you are very tense.

The cells are examined to see if there are any abnormalities or changes. If abnormal cells are detected, these can be treated.

The idea is to catch them before they develop into cancer, so if you do get an abnormal result and are called back, don't panic.

There is plenty of information on the NHS website — cancerscreening.nhs.uk — for you to look at.

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