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Cervical Screening: 10 Ways To Make Your Smear Test More Comfortable

A smear test (cervical screening) is something that many women feel concerned about. They believe they’ll feel embarrassed, it will be uncomfortable or they’re worried about the shape of their genitals.

However, this quick screening test could save your life. Every year, there are 3000 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed in the UK and it’s one of the top three cancers affecting women and those with cervixes under 45 years old.

This Cervical Cancer Screening Week 2022 (20th-26th June), we want to help you take care of your health and make getting your smear easier.

In this short blog, we’ll explain the essentials including what a smear test (cervical screening) is and how to get an appointment. Then we’ll share ten effective ways you can make the experience more comfortable.

What is a smear test?

A smear test (also called a cervical smear or cervical screening) is a test that checks the health of your cervix. This is the small opening to your womb that opens slightly during ovulation and completely during childbirth.

It tells you whether you are at a high or low risk of developing cervical abnormalities that could lead to cancer.

When you attend your appointment, the nurse will take a small sample of cells from your cervix using a small brush.

How do I get an appointment for a smear test?

If you’re aged 25 to 64 and living in the UK, you’ll receive a letter to invite you for a smear and explain how to book.

Simply call to make an appointment when convenient for you.

How do you get your smear test results?

You’ll receive the results of your smear test via letter. When you’re at your cervical screening appointment, your nurse or doctor can tell you how long this is likely to take. Try not to worry about your results, even if they are later than you expect. Most people have a normal result.

The letter will explain what they tested and what they mean.

If the HPV virus is not found in your sample, your risk of cervical cancer is very low.

If the HPV virus is found, you’ll be told what you need to do next. This could involve a repeat test in a year or another screening test called a colposcopy. This is like a smear test but is carried out at a hospital.

How to make cervical screening easier

There are several ways you can make your smear test easier and stress-free.

  1. Time your appointment with your period. Find a time when you don’t have your period.

  2. Wear comfortable clothes. This will help you feel more relaxed. Wear a skirt, if possible.

  3. Ask for a woman to do the test when you make the appointment

  4. Bring someone with you to the appointment

  5. Ask to change position if it’s uncomfortable

  6. Relax your muscles to make testing easier

  7. Distract yourself so you don’t think about it!

  8. Ask for a smaller speculum

  9. Don’t worry about your genitals- they’ve seen it all before

  10. Treat yourself to something afterwards

We hope this helps to put your mind at ease. Cervical screening may be daunting, but it is critical that you don’t ignore it.

We have put together some useful resources below to help.

Useful resources