What is a cervical screening test and what happens during one?

Parenting / Saturday, January 13th, 2018

Ladies, you should have noticed a lot of coverage recently highlighting the need to book in for a cervical screening test (in old school money this was referred to as a smear test).  This is because in January is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.  As it would happen, my appointment was this week.  So I thought I would share my own experience to re-assure you just how simple, quick and pain-free it is.

It is the first one I have had in 3 years and due to the time lapse it is easy to make it in to something worse than it is.  Let’s face it, no one particularly likes being prodded in that area, even those of us that have given birth (which is far more intrusive and painful but we still put ourselves through it).

My Experience

My appointment was at 3.10pm.  I arrived promptly and was seen on time.  Before the screening procedure took place I was asked the following routine questions:

  1. Was I sexually active?
  2. Did I have any bleeding after sex?
  3. Did I have any spotting?
  4. Were my periods regular?
  5. Was there anything unusual about them?
  6. Had I had any abnormal smears previously?
  7. Was I on any hormone treatment?
  8. Did I have an implant or was I on any other contraception?
  9. Could I be pregnant?

After answering the questions I was then asked to step behind the curtain and remove my clothing from the waist down.

Once ready, the nurse rubbed lubricant on to a speculum – which is shaped like a test tube – and inserted it up as far as my cervix.  She then collected some cells by inserting a small brush up through the speculum.  The only sensation I had at this point was the coldness from the lubricant and some slight discomfort from the speculum.  The discomfort is due to a small amount of pressure on the cervix but it only lasts for as long as the test takes place.  For me this was less than a minute.  To be honest even using the word “discomfort” is over-playing it.  The nurse removed the speculum and I got dressed again.

And that was it, all done.  I was back in the car by 3:20pm.  Ready to crack on with the rest of the day.

Trust me there is nothing to fear and it is so important to have check-ups.  If this helps prevent the spread of cancer then I’m all for having a cervical screening test on a regular basis.

For more information on cervical screening please visit: www.jostrust.org.uk or search on social media using the hashtag #SmearForSmear

Jo's Trust Cervical Screening Awareness Poster


How frequently should you have one?

You should receive a reminder from your GP/Health Authority every 3 years.  If you are over 50 then it is usually a reminder every 5 years.  Being screened regularly means that changes to the cervical cells can be detected and acted upon.

What is it checking for?

It is test to check the health of the cervical cells.  Early detection of any abnormalities in the cell structure could prevent cancer.

What is HPV?

HPV is short for Human Papilloma Virus.  Changes in the cervical cells are caused by the presence of this virus.

How long does it take?

As my post above says, I was in and out in less than 10 minutes.  The procedure itself took all of 2 minutes from start to finish.

When do I get my results?

My surgery has advised that it will take 2 weeks to get my results.

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15 Replies to “What is a cervical screening test and what happens during one?”

  1. Thank you for openly talking about cervical screening ie the dreaded smear. As bloggers it’s one of the best things we can do – to influence others to look after their health, who knows, it might just save a life.
    Thanks so much for linking to #coolmumclub

  2. They are super easy. I had mine at the same time I had my implant replaced last time. The implant change over was certainly more uncomfortable but frankly the worst but was having my son referring to me as mummy pig from outside the curtain the whole way through!!! #Coolmumclub

    1. If you write a post about it then let me know as I would love to read it and help share it to raise awareness. As I’ve said earlier in one of my replies it amazes me that the numbers of women having a test is falling. If it is handed out by the NHS and monitored closely then there is a perfectly valid reason why they do it and all women need to take advantage of it.

  3. It is so important to have regular smear tests…I get one each time I get my contraceptive implant changed. After getting my arm numbed and sliced a smear test seems like a walk in the park. lol x

  4. I think it’s wonderful that so many women are raising awareness of the cervical screening. Last year I went for my routine smear test which resulted in me being diagnosed with cervical cancer. Thanks to the early detection I was able to have surgery to have it removed and have just this week been for my 6 month screening to check that everything is still okay. I’m awaiting results as I write this. As part of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week I’m sharing my story over on the blog next week. I think it’s great that you have written about the test itself, because really it’s so easy to build it up in your head.
    Thanks so much for sharing with #pocolo

    1. Wishing you the very best of news back from those results. It astounds me that the number of women having a test has fallen. I look forward to reading your post next week.

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