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Cervical Screening Facts

What is a smear test?

What will happen during a smear test?

  • You will be asked to undress from the waist down and lie down on a couch.
  • The doctor or nurse will gently put a small instrument, called a speculum, into your vagina to hold it open.
  • The doctor or nurse will then take a sample by using a small brush to pick up cells from the surface of your cervix, which are then placed in a small bottle before being sent to the laboratory for testing.
  • The test should not be painful although some women may find it slightly uncomfortable.

Why have a smear test?

  • Smear tests are a quick and simple way for women with no symptoms to prevent cancer by finding and treating changes in the cervix early.
  • Most cases of cervical cancer can be prevented if women go for regular smear tests.
  • It puts your mind at rest so you can get on with life.
  • It is free and confidential.
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When is my smear test due?

What about the results?

Signs and symptoms of cervical cancer

  • Abnormal bleeding after sex or in between periods.
  • Pain in and around your vagina when having sex.
  • An unpleasant smelling vaginal discharge.
  • Pain when going for a wee.

Risk factors that may increase the chances of cervical cancer

  • Smoking.
  • Having sex for the first time at an early age.
  • Having had several sexual partners or having had a sexual partner who has had several other partners.
  • Taking immunosuppressant drugs (for example, after an organ transplant).
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If you have any concerns about the smear test or your results you can talk it over with your doctor or nurse.