Cervical Smears

Cervical smears are offered to all women in the UK between the ages of 25 years and 64 years at 3 yearly intervals.

You may book an appointment with a Doctor or Nurse to have a Cervical Smear Test.

What does the test involve?

To do the test a smear of cells from the cervix is spread onto a slide, which is then sent to the hospital to be examined under a microscope.

The process of taking a smear is simple and quick. We appreciate that some of you may feel anxious, and may like a chaperone. You may request to see a female doctor or nurse if you prefer, please advise when making the appointment. The nurse or doctor will ask you to lie on the couch and insert a small warmed instrument called a speculum into your vagina so that she can see the cervix clearly. A sample is taken using a smooth spatula which is wiped gently over the cervix, and sometimes a small soft brush may also be used.

It is not possible to do the test while you are menstruating, and it is a good idea to use a condom if you have sex the night before the test.

A shower rather than a bath is preferable before you have a smear test, because washing too thoroughly may affect the sensitivity of the test and the smear may need to be repeated.

Results of the smear test are sent to you by post and will generally arrive in 4-6 weeks. Occasionally results may take longer due to delays at the laboratory.

Do not panic if you receive an abnormal result. About one in twelve smears show some changes in the cells of the cervix. It is very rare for these abnormalities to be cancer. Remember the test is to detect early changes in the cells which can be easily and effectively treated.

For more details about the Cervical Smear Screening Programme in the UK please click on the link.