Smear Tests

What is cervical screening?

Cervical screening (a smear test) checks the health of your cervix. The cervix is the opening to your womb from your vagina. It's not a test for cancer, it's a test to help prevent cancer.

Cervical screening (smear testing) is available for free and we offer a friendly and non-judgemental service, to help you feel as relaxed and comfortable as possible.

When you will be invited for a cervical screening:

All women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 should be invited by letter and you can book an appointment as soon as you get a letter.

If you missed your last cervical screening, you do not need to wait for a letter to book an appointment.

under 25
up to 6 months before you turn 25
25 to 49
every 3 years
50 to 64
every 5 years
65 or older
only if 1 of your last 3 tests was abnormal

When cervical screening is not recommended:

If you're under 25

You will not be invited for cervical screening until you're 25 because:

  • Cervical cancer is very rare in people under 25.
  • It might lead to having treatment you do not need – abnormal cell changes often go back to normal in younger women.

If you're 65 or older

You'll usually stop being invited for screening once you turn 65. This is because it's very unlikely that you'll get cervical cancer at this age.

You'll only be invited again if 1 of your last 3 tests was abnormal.

If you're 65 or older and have never been for cervical screening, or have not had cervical screening since the age of 50, you can ask your GP for a test.

What happens at your appointment:

During a cervical screening a small sample of cells is taken from your cervix for testing.

The test itself should take less than 5 minutes. The whole appointment should take about 10 minutes and it's usually done by a female nurse or doctor.

Before starting, they should explain what will happen during the test and answer any questions you have.

What you will need to do:

  1. You'll need to undress (behind a screen) from the waist down. You will be given a sheet to put over you.
  2. The nurse will ask you to lie back on a bed, usually with your legs bent, feet together and knees apart. Sometimes you may need to change position during the test.
  3. They'll gently put a smooth, tube-shaped tool (a speculum) into your vagina. A small amount of lubricant should be used.
  4. The nurse will open the speculum so they can see your cervix.
  5. Using a soft brush, they'll take a small sample of cells from your cervix.
  6. The nurse will close and remove the speculum and leave you to get dressed.

For more information, visit the NHS website.

If you are a trans man and/or non-binary person:

We understand that cervical screening isn't easy for everyone.

If you are a trans man and/or non-binary and need some help and support when it comes to cervical screening, Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust have a great resource, which you can view by clicking here.

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