Cervical Screening (Smear test)
Cervical Screening, or a Smear Test, is a free health test available on the NHS as part of the National Cervical Screening Programme. It helps prevent cervical cancer by checking for a virus called high-risk HPV and cervical cell changes. It is not a test for cancer.
It is your choice whether to go for cervical screening. Cervical screening aims to identify whether you are at higher risk of developing cervical cell changes or cervical cancer. This means you can get any care or treatment you need early.
You should be invited for cervical screening if you have a cervix. Women are usually born with a cervix, and Trans men, non-binary and intersex people may also have one.
The appointment will last approximately 20 minutes and will be carried out by one of our female nurses.
During the appointment a nurse will ask you to lie on an examination bed and they will insert a speculum into your vagina to help see your cervix more clearly.
The nurse will then use a small, soft brush to quickly take a sample of cells from your cervix. This may feel a bit strange, but should not be painful.
You will be sent a letter in the post with your results. Results should be expected to arrive between 2 – 6 weeks after your test.
You're still at risk of cervical cancer if:
- you have had the HPV vaccine – it does not protect you from all types of HPV, so you're still at risk of cervical cancer,
- you have only had 1 sexual partner – you can get HPV the first time you're sexually active,
- you have had the same partner, or not had sex, for a long time – you can have HPV for a long time without knowing it,
- you're a lesbian or bisexual – you're at risk if you have had any sexual contact,
- you're a trans man with a cervix,
- you have had a partial hysterectomy that did not remove all of your cervix,
If you've never had any kind of sexual contact with a man or woman, you may decide not to go for cervical screening when you are invited. But you can still have a test if you want one.
If you're not sure whether to have cervical screening, talk to your GP or nurse.
Resources in other languages
Videos in other languages: https://www.jostrust.org.uk/information/videos
Leaflet for women considering https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cervical-screening-description-in-brief
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