Medical Smear - Any advice to get me through it please?



Booked a smear, feel a little coerced into it but also want to have the peace of mind of knowing I’ve been checked. To be honest, a big part of my motivation is that the GP surgery flags anyone who is overdue and I can’t deal with the public announcement in the waiting room whenever I visit. I don’t want to explain every time to a receptionist or a doctor/nurse for that matter.

Main fears:

- Dissociating, freezing or flashbacking during the test.
- It hurting like hell. I’m not sexually active and the last (and only) smear I attempted had to be stopped.

What I’ve done:

-Told the nurse that I have a history of trauma and that my last test didn’t go well.
-Booked a longer appointment.

Any advice to get me through it please? I’m wondering how much to tell the nurse before we begin. I’m cautious about things going on my notes. I’m also freaking out massively.


I just did mine! Major achievement as last time I went: I freaked out and made it stop and couldn't go through with it. ...

The massive difference for me was that I went to a clinic for survivors of sexual abuse (are you in England or Scotland? As that avenue is open to you too if you are .. )

I made a plan of what I want them to do. And they (psychologist and nurse) sat with me to talk through what I wanted, how I wanted it, what would happen. We spoke about signs of me disassociating. What my plans were after. All sorts of stuff. It put me in control totally.
I also wore a dress so all I had to do was take my tights off and I was covered still. So I found that much better than wearing trousers.
And I had a little crystal stone I hold so I held that during.

Decide what you want and how you want her to do it (positions, which sized equipment to use, where they should stand, whether you want to put it in yourself etc)
Tell them your plan and get them to agree to it
Feel as much as in control as you can
Agree what words or signs to look for if you need it to stop

You got this.
What my T said to me, which really really helped was "it might not be traumatic. It might be hard but ok".
I was preparing for being retraumatised again. As the time before felt very very very much like that. Just opening up the possibility that it might not be trauma I am preparing for: wow. Blew my mind.

My T also said I could email her if I felt like cancelling (which I thought I might if I was freaking out already before the appointment) or after. She also emailed me the day before and said she was thinking about me. That really helped.
My partner drove me and drove me back. That really helped. (Couldn't come in with me because of the pandemic).
And a friend checked in with me before and after.
Do you have people to support you through it in various ways?
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Thanks so much to both of you for your advice. My T mentioned taking someone with me but to be honest that feels so much worse. I’m not sure why - something to do with not wanting anyone to know about it I think.

I am in England and I looked at GUM clinics - is that what you mean Movingforward? Can I ask where you found the clinic?

I think I might try and communicate as much of how I’d like it to be as possible. I think the most important part for me is that she stops if I ask her to or if I can’t talk. It just feels excruciating to discuss with her and I’m worried she’ll roll her eyes and think I’m making a fuss.

My T has offered texting support before/after but it’s on Christmas Eve so I feel a little harsh taking him up on that one! Maybe I’ll ask a friend.

When you say positions - is there any choice in this? On my back doesn’t feel great.

Thanks so much both of you for your replies.


Itt called "my body back project". I had to book months in advance as they have a monthly clinic with limited appointments available. But they also have waiting lists as people cancel.
I definitely recommend them.

Your T wouldn't offer if he didn't feel able to. So don't be worried about him. I understand the not wanting to disturb T. But he offered. It's ok. I hope you feel able to use that support if you need it.

About positions: I don't know about not being on your back. For me it was how and where my legs are and where they are. I.e. one time I was asked to put my hands underneath my bottom and that freaked me out. And the nurse was standing over me and I felt trapped. So for me: I need then down by my feet and I need my hands free where I want them to be.


I have to be consciously sedated for a smear. I waited too long and had uterine cancer. It turned out ok since I had a complete hysterectomy and I don't have smears anymore. I would recommend some ativan before the procedure if the doc agrees. You would have to bring someone to wait in the waiting room to drive you home though.


Wanted to say thanks again for your help. I did it!

Without going into too much detail, it was pretty horrible still. It hurt, I panicked and cried and then asked to try again because I really didn’t want to go back/though all the anticipation again. The nurse was kind and respectful and I felt in control and like I had a choice- that helped hugely. I also found that having more time was useful and I took the tip about having my hands free (I took a blanket to sit on but didn’t need it in the end).

Time to recover now and forget about it for 3 years. Thanks again.