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Don't Fear The Smear

Add booking your smear test to your to-do list today!

September 5th, 2023 |Lifestyle

How to get over smear fear

Have you been sent the initial and reminder letters to book your smear test?

Are you putting it off?

It’s time to get over your smear fear and book your smear test!

What is a smear test?

A smear test (cervical screening) is a test for HPV in the cervix. Some types of HPV can cause the development of abnormal cells, which can turn into cancer.  

A smear test looks out for these cells. In most cases, cervical cancer can be prevented from developing if found and treated early. 

A cervical screening is available for anyone with a cervix. If you’re not registered as female with your GP but have a cervix, you need to request an appointment. In terms of screenings for transgender and non-binary people, check out the NHS website for more information on how and when to book an appointment.

At your smear test appointment

  1. You will be asked to undress from the waist down.

  2. The health professional performing your smear test will ask you to get into a comfortable position. 

  3. A plastic or metal speculum will then be inserted into your vagina to open the area up so the cervix is visible. These come in a range of sizes, which will be discussed prior to the examination to ensure the most appropriate size for you is used. 

  4. Then, a small soft brush will be inserted to collect a cell sample. 

Smear test results

You will receive a copy of your smear test results around 2 weeks after the examination after they come back from laboratory testing. 

The possible results from your cervical screening could be listed as: 

  • HPV negative

  • HPV-positive with no abnormal cells 

  • HPV-positive, abnormal cells

  • Unavailable or inadequate

If you are one of the bottom three options, you will be invited back for further testing. This isn’t anything to worry about - it’s simply a precaution to make sure everything is okay and not a cause for concern. 

Don’t fear the smear

Routine smear tests are completely normal and nothing to be afraid of. 

You will be in safe hands. 

The health professional who will carry out your cervical screening does this day-in, day-out, so they can answer any of your questions and ease any concerns before, during, and after the examination. 

There are several things you can do prior to the screening to help you feel more comfortable, including: 

  • Requesting a female health professional

  • Telling the receptionist at your GP that you’d like to come with a chaperone (in the form of a friend, family member, or another health professional)

  • Requesting longer appointments so you have more time to get comfortable with your surroundings

Before your appointment, it’s advised you plan your journey so you arrive in good time for your screening. You can also bring something to keep you occupied while you wait - such as your phone, a magazine, or anything else that will take your mind off your appointment. 

Plan the rest of your day around your smear test. If you’ve booked some time off work to visit, take the rest of the morning or afternoon to treat yourself at your favourite coffee shop, or just spend a few hours relaxing in front of the TV. 

Sadly, we all have our insecurities, and it’s completely normal to feel a bit apprehensive about opening your legs up to a stranger. But, to put it bluntly…they’ve seen it all before and are there to do their job, so won’t be looking at your cellulite, stretch marks, or even your choice of knickers.  

It’s likely the health professional conducting your cervical screening examination will have seen other people on the same day as you, as well as countless patients prior to you. 

When to book a smear test 

Around 6 months before your 25th birthday, you’ll receive an invitation to book your smear test, as well as an information booklet telling you everything you need to know about the process and when you should book it. 

You shouldn’t book a smear test while on your period, as this can make the results hard to read.

The best time to book a smear test is any day you’re not on your period, preferably the 2 weeks before your next period is due. 

Smear test FAQs 

Does a smear test hurt? 

It’s important to note that everyone is different and so are their smear test experiences. 

However, most patients report that all they feel is some slight discomfort during the procedure, but nothing close to pain. 

How much is a cervical screening test? 

A cervical screening test is free on the NHS. 

However, if you’re with a private healthcare company or choose to visit one for your smear test, it will typically cost between £200 and £300. 

How long does a smear test take? 

The whole appointment usually takes around 10 minutes, with the actual smear test itself taking less than 5 minutes. 

You’ll be in and out before you know it. 

How often should I get a smear test? 

After your initial cervical screening, you’ll be invited to get one every 3 years. 

Recommended cervical screening ages are between 25 and 49. After this, you’ll be invited every 5 years until you turn 64. Over the age of 65, you will only be required to undergo a smear test if a recent test had abnormal results. 

Can you get a smear test while pregnant?

If you get an invitation for a cervical screening but are currently pregnant, you should put it off until after you’ve given birth. 

You shouldn’t get a smear test when pregnant because it’s much harder to get a clear result. So, you should schedule your smear test after pregnancy - around 12 weeks after your baby is born. 

MYA’s Mission

Our mission is to encourage our followers, patients and staff to attend their smear test and not put it off. If you can spend the time having a bikini wax, surely you can attend your cervical screening appointment.

Fighting cancer is far scarier than attending a smear test. Prevention and early detection of changes and abnormalities are key, so book that appointment and encourage your friends and family members to attend theirs too. A smear test could save your life!

For more information and advice on cervical screening visit

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