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Cervical Screening


We know from our research that not everyone finds smear tests easy, for many reasons, such as embarrassment or fear. So we have collated these tips from Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust that could help make your smear test easier.

Bring someone you trust
They can be with you in the waiting room or during your appointment

Ask for a smaller speculum
A smaller size may be more comfortable for you

Wear a skirt or dress
If you want to wear one, you can keep it on during your smear test

Talk to your nurse
If you need any support or have questions, your nurse can help

What is cervical screening (a smear test)?

Cervical screening is a free health test that helps prevent cervical cancer. It checks for cell changes (abnormal cells) on your cervix caused by high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV). It is not a test for cancer.

You might hear cervical screening being called a smear test. This is just a different name for the same test.

Who can have cervical screening?

In the UK, you are automatically invited for cervical screening if you are:

  • between the ages of 25 to 64
  • registered as female with a GP surgery.

You are invited:

  • every 3 years between age 25 and 49
  • every 5 years between age 50 and 64.

You may get your first invite up to 6 months before you turn 25. You can book an appointment as soon as you get the invite.

It is very rare to develop cervical cancer:

  • under the age of 25
  • over the age of 64, if you have had regular cervical screening.

Jo's Trust has more information if you are under 25 or if you are 65 or over.

If you are worried about any symptoms, you should get them checked by your doctor or nurse, whatever your age.

How do I book my smear?

If you receive your invite letter from the NHS you can book your smear with us by:

  • Telephoning and booking an appointment
  • Using the NHS App or Patient Access and booking an appointment online titled 'Cervical Screening (Smear Test) by invite only'

If you wish to book an appointment without receiving a smear invite letter you may be asked to see or speak to a doctor first.

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