What Happens At A Smear Test?
A smear test or ‘cervical screening’ checks the health of your cervix (the bit between your womb and vagina).
It is not a test for cancer but rather a test to help prevent possible cancer. A smear test is offered to those aged 25-64 and you will be invited via a letter in the post.
During the appointment, a small sample of cells will be swabbed from your cervix and tested for certain strains of HPV that can cause cancer. This may be slightly uncomfortable but it should NOT hurt – if it hurts let the doctor know!
Once these have been tested, depending on the results you can be invited back:
👩⚕️ Every year.
👩⚕️ Every 3 years.
👩⚕️ Every 5 years.
👩⚕️ Or straight to colposcopy for more tests.
These are not compulsory and many people put them off or forget to book them even though they prevent 7 in 10 positive cancer results!
Top Tips For Your Smear
Smear tests can make some of us nervous, especially if we’re not used to doctors going down there. Here are some tips to make yourself more comfortable!
Wear Comfortable Clothing
You must be as relaxed as possible during the test. If you’re stressed, everything will clench up and it will be harder to manoeuvre!
Maybe try and wear a dress or skirt to an appointment if that’s your vibe as these can be easily moved and often means more of you is covered as opposed to taking off your jeans completely.
Ask For A Women
If you’re more comfortable with a female doctor or nurse doing the test, you can ask for one. It’s not guaranteed one will always be available but it’s worth a try!
Ask To Put It In Yourself
This is a less common option but certainly possible. If you are super nervous about the speculum you can ask your doctor to put it in yourself.
There is talk of a self-sampling test coming in, which would just involve putting a swab in the vagina.
Don’t Use Lube Before The Test
You mustn't use spermicide or lots of lubricants in the 24 hours before the test, because it can interfere with the test itself.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask To Change Position
Like sex and most things in life, communication is the key. Don’t be afraid to ask the doctor to change position when they try and put the speculum in. This can help with the discomfort if you feel any!