Cervical Smear Screening

Understanding more about smear tests and your cervix can help you feel more comfortable and at ease about yours.

It’s normal to feel a bit worried about your smear, but the thought is usually worse than the reality. Your Practice Nurse will help you relax and feel as comfortable as possible by explaining what will happen and answering any questions or worries first. It’s important to tell them if you’re anxious so they can put you at ease. Some women find wearing a skirt to their appointment makes them feel more comfortable because it’s easy to lift up around their waist. You’ll be given some paper towels to cover yourself with.

For most women, smear tests aren’t painful although it might feel a bit odd, especially if you’re nervous. But understanding what happens at your appointment and knowing what to expect can help you relax. Make sure you ask any questions or read about it before you go. When you have your smear test, your Practice Nurse will ask you to lie down and let your knees fall gently apart. Then they’ll use something called a speculum to carefully open your vagina and softly brush for cells. If it does feel uncomfortable, let the person taking your smear know.

Your smear test is simple.  There are a few tips to help make the appointment run as smoothly as possible.

  • Try to book your smear in the middle of your cycle. If it falls three days either side of your period, your sample can be hard to read. Just call if you need to rearrange for another day.
  • Make sure you don’t use condoms, spermicide or lube for 24 hours before your smear test. They can interfere with your results.
  • Understanding what happens at your smear test can help you feel more at ease. If you’re not sure about anything, ask your nurse. You can always call ahead to talk to someone on the phone if you don’t want to wait until the day.
  • Go to your appointment wearing clothes you feel comfortable in. Some women find wearing a skirt best because it’s easy to lift up around the waist. If you’re coming straight from work or after a busy day, there’s no need to worry about washing or showering first.
  • Try arranging something nice for afterwards, like a shopping trip or lunch with friends. It gives you something to look forward to and reward yourself with.


What is a cervix?
The cervix is a strong muscle in your womb – it looks a bit like a doughnut with a dimple in the middle. It plays an important role in conceiving and giving birth.
Everyone’s cervix is different and they come in lots of shapes and sizes. They change throughout the month too – sometimes firmer, sometimes softer.

Who should be screened?
From the age of 25, all women are invited to have a smear test (cervical screening) every three to five years until they’re 64.
Even if you’ve never had sex, you should still have regular smear tests.

What is the screening for?
A smear test isn’t a test for cancer – it’s a pre-cancer screening to notice any changes to your cervix before they become a problem.
Most test results come back clear – 95% of them in fact.
Cervical cancer is rare – it makes up less than 1% of all cancer cases. That’s partly because smear tests are good at catching and treating potential problems early enough to prevent it.

How long does the screening take?
Smear tests are quick and effective – they only take about five minutes and early detection prevents up to 75% of cervical cancers.

Who will carry out the procedure?
We have two female Practice Nurses who carry out the majority of Smear Tests within the surgery, however your doctor may also carry this out.