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Smear tests (cervical screening)

From 1st April 2017 Sexual Health Wirral will no longer provide smear testing.

What should I do when I receive my invite letter?

All women who are registered with a GP are invited for smear tests:

  • Aged 25 to 49 – invited every three years
  • Aged 50 to 64 – invited every five years
  • Over 65 - only women who haven't been screened since age 50 or those who have recently had abnormal tests

Your letter will ask you to contact your GP to make an appointment for your routine smear test as we no longer provide this service.

About your smear test

Having your regular smear test (also known as cervical screening) is a very important part of being a woman. Some women may feel anxious or embarrassed about having a smear test, but the aim of a smear test is to detect abnormal cells on the cervix (the entrance to the womb), which could lead to cervical cancer.

A smear test isn't a test for cancer, it's a test to check the health of the cells of the cervix. Most women's test results show that everything is normal, but for around 1 in 20 women the test shows some abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.

Most of these changes won't lead to cervical cancer and the cells may go back to normal on their own. However, in some cases, the abnormal cells need to be removed so they can't become cancerous.

About 3,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year in the UK.

It's possible for women of all ages to develop cervical cancer, although the condition mainly affects sexually active women aged 30 to 45. The condition is very rare in women under 25.

What does the smear test involve?

The test usually takes around five minutes.

The doctor or nurse will gently insert an instrument called a speculum into your vagina. The speculum allows them to see your cervix by holding open the walls of your vagina. The doctor or nurse will then use a small, soft brush to take some cells from your cervix.

Some women find the procedure a bit uncomfortable or embarrassing, but for most women it's not painful. If you find the test painful, tell the doctor or nurse, because they may be able to reduce your discomfort. Try to relax as much as possible, because being tense makes the test more difficult to carry out. Taking slow, deep breaths will help.

The sample of cervical cells will then be sent to a laboratory where it will be examined under a microscope for abnormal cells. You should receive the result within two weeks.