Women often learn about the horrors of a pap smear before they're even old enough to need one. That's how it worked in my family. My mom and grandmother and aunts and cousins all complained about trips to the gyno, how uncomfortable it was, and how much it hurt.
So I was obviously terrified when my mom signed me up for my first pap smear at 18, and I was so tense in the exam room that I had a terrible experience. I wish I could say my first time was out of the norm, but it was just as awkward and painful for other women I know.
The truth is, though, it doesn't have to be that bad. We're taught to fear the gynaecologist, and that's a problem. So one UK-based vlogger decided to live stream her pap smear, just to show everyone that it's really not that bad.
Katy and Anna, who run a vlog channel called Hey Mummy posted a video to YouTube of a doctor examining Anna's cervix.
Don't worry, her waist is covered by a cloth the whole time so you can't actually see anything happening. But the video does a lot more than just let you watch a pap smear. Katy and Anna spend the first 8 minutes talking about how silly it is that everyone is so scared of going to the gynaecologist, and then talk with the doctor to dispel common pap smear myths (like that it really shouldn't hurt).
They also use this video to make a plea for women to get over their fears and go get a pap smear already. "Please ladies, if there is one thing you do for yourselves let it be this! The best way to prevent Cervical Cancer is to keep up with your smear tests," Anna said in the video.
And she's right. Going to the gynaecologist is an important step in reproductive health. While pap smears might not be necessary on an annual basis for everyone, be sure to have regular, open conversations with your doctor to determine what's best for you.