What is a Cervical Smear?

A cervical smear test is an early detection test for cervical cancer. It can show up abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix before a cancer develops and before there are any outward signs.

When should I have it done?

All women who are, or have been, sexually active should have smears from the age of 25 until the age of 65. Health and Social Services recommend that a smear test should be done once every 3 years, under the age of 50, and every 5 years over the age of 50, unless you notice something is wrong or that your previous test result showed that another test was necessary sooner.

If you have never had a smear test have one NOW!

Women who have had a hysterectomy do not usually need to have a further smear test unless the hysterectomy has been performed due to previous abnormal smear tests or if the hysterectomy was sub-total (i.e. the cervix was left in place). In some cases regular check- ups may be necessary and your gynaecologist will advise you as to the need for further tests.

Where can I go to get a cervical smear?

These can be taken by your GP surgery or at the Choices clinic. Look in the ‘Yellow Pages’ under ‘Doctors’ for the telephone number of your nearest surgery.

If you have your smear at the clinic, a copy of your result will then be forwarded to your GP.

Is there a charge?

The price charged will vary at the different clinics.

How is it done?

It is best not to have a smear taken when you are about to have a period or in the few days after your period has finished.

The test involves a gentle internal examination, through the vagina (front passage). A sample (smear) of cells is taken from the cervix with a small brush. It is not painful but can feel a little uncomfortable. The more relaxed you are, the less discomfort you will feel. The sample taken will be put into a liquid medium and sent to a hospital in the UK for screening. The results are usually available in about four weeks and you will be sent your result letter through the post.