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Smear Tests

Are you worried about having your smear test? Have you been putting it off? Please read on…

Smear tests are important to check the health of your cervix.  Your cervix is the neck of the womb and is at the top of the vagina.  As you can’t see it, these regular checks are important to detect any changes.  If you want to know what a smear test is, how it is done and when you should have one please follow this link:

Cervical screening – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Some people are worried about having their smear test.  We get it, we have to have them too!  Maybe the last one was painful, maybe you feel embarrassed.  Maybe you can’t get time off work or there is no one to help look after your children. There are lots of reasons for putting it off, but there is one BIG reason to get it done


Let’s try to address some of the concerns –

‘Smear tests are painful’

Smear tests use a speculum – a plastic device that holds the walls of the vagina back so the cervix can be seen.  This can feel like a little stretch inside but is not painful.  The sample is taken with a soft plastic brush and most women feel very little when this is taken.  In the past a hard wooden spatula was used – this is not the case anymore and taking the sample is usually not uncomfortable. 

This is an email a patient sent us last week:

I would just like to share how pleased I am with my experience today.
I had a routine cervical screening with the practice nurse. This is something I was feeling very nervous and anxious about, as I have in the past experienced pain during smear tests.
When I arrived and spoke about how I was feeling, the nurse put me at ease. She listened to me, reassured me and above all performed the procedure so quickly and it was completely pain free. She also gave advice on how to handle future screenings.
I was absolutely overjoyed, and could not believe the difference in experience. I am so grateful.

This is another one from NHS choices:

The Nurse at this surgery was fantastic today. I had to have a smear test which I wasn’t looking forward too but the nurse put my mind at rest and was so careful with me. I have had a smear test several times before and never felt this relaxed! Thank you to the nurse you are doing a great job

‘Having a smear test is embarrassing’

It is normal to feel embarrassed when you have a smear test – we spend all our lives keeping that area private!  Practice nurses are highly trained professionals and will do all they can to put you at ease.  There is a screen to get changed behind and you will be given a disposable cover to protect your dignity.   Please tell the nurse if you are feeling anxious, they will be happy to support you to have this important screening test.

‘I can’t get time off work’

We have evening appointments available on Mondays and early morning appointments on Tues, Thurs and Friday.  Please speak to the reception team who will do their best to find you a suitable time to come and see the nurse.

‘Smears are for older women’

Cervical cancer affects all ages, but is the most common cancer in women under 35yrs.  Anyone with a cervix aged between 25 and 64 should have a regular smear test.  Not attending smear tests is one of the biggest risk factors for developing the disease.

‘I had the HPV vaccine so I don’t need smear tests’

The HPV vaccine has been offered to girls in school since 2008 and is 70% effective in preventing cervical cancer.  So those who have been vaccinated are far less likely to develop cervical cancer, but as it doesn’t offer 100% protection smear tests are still important.

Finally, if you are still unsure, please book an appointment just to talk it through.  You don’t have to have it done there and then, we can schedule it when you are ready.  Our nurses are more than happy to have an informal chat with you to address any other concerns you have.