Cervical Screening Information

Don’t Fear Your Smear

About cervical screening (‘smear tests’)

The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus (womb) that forms a canal between the uterus and vagina. Cervical screening, or the “smear test”, is a free routine health check that identifies potentially harmful cells and changes on the cervix.

Cervical screening is not a test for cancer, instead, it looks for early, pre-cancerous changes. Catching any changes early can reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer. Cervical cancer kills two women every day. Regular screenings can help reduce that number, which is why it’s so important you attend your screening when invited.

Who the screening is for

Every woman and person with a cervix, is invited for cervical screening at regular intervals: 

  • If you’re aged 25-49, you’ll be invited every 3 years
  • If you’re aged 50-64, you’ll be invited every 5 years

What happens during cervical screening

Your screening should only take a few minutes, and the whole appointment usually takes around ten minutes. During your screening a nurse will give you a private space in which to undress from the waist down. They will also give you a paper sheet to cover yourself and will ask you to lie on the bed.

They’ll then place a speculum (a hollow cylinder with a rounded edge) in your vagina. This helps them see your cervix. Then, using a small brush, they’ll gently gather some cells from your cervix. They’ll remove the speculum, put your sample in a pot and send it off for testing. You’ll get your results around two weeks later.

Your appointment  

If you feel nervous about your appointment you could ask someone you trust about their experience and/or speak to your nurse or doctor about any concerns. Do talk to them if you are feeling nervous.

You may also want to consider calling Jo’s cervical trust helpline on 0808 802 8000 for more support. There are also a range of things you can do to put yourself at ease during your screening:

  • You can take a trusted friend or family member with you
  • Wear a long, loose dress or skirt. It may make you feel more covered during your screening
  • Take long, deep breaths to help you relax
  • Listen to a podcast or some music during your screening to put you at ease
  • Speculums come in a range of different sizes. It is a rounded cylinder which is gently opened so nurses can see your cervix. You may want to discuss the size of the speculum with the nurse before you have the test.

 For more information on tips relating to cervical screening visit the Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust website.

Things to think about before booking

  • Write down any questions you might have
  • It is best not to book a cervical screening when you have your period as it can make it harder to get a result

How to book

If you’re due to have a cervical screening, you’ll receive a letter in the post. Don’t ignore it, book your cervical screening when you receive it.

It is important that you have regular cervical screenings. If you think you have missed a test or are due a test, contact your GP today.

More information can be found on the NHS website.

Campaign assets – for partners/organisations

We have produced the following downloadable assets for our Don’t Fear Your Smear campaign, which aims to help encourage people to attend their cervical screening. 

Contact us at phadmin@trafford.gov.uk should you require these materials in other formats.