If you feel a little worried or anxious about attending your cervical screening, you’re certainly not alone. A survey conducted by the UK charity Jo’s cervical Cancer Trust found that over 2,000 women in the UK either delayed or chose not to attend their cervical screening, making the rates the lowest they had been in 21 years. It’s vital that you attend your screening, but if you are perhaps feeling anxious about the appointment then it’s certainly worth reading up on what will happen during the screening to put you at ease as much as possible.

Before you attend

If you are registered with a GP you will receive a letter inviting you to your appointment on a specific time. You have to contact your GP to book this appointment. If for whatever reason you are unable or choose not to attend the appointment at your GP, you can alternatively enquire with local sexual health services as many sexual health clinics will offer cervical screenings.

If you experience regular periods, try and avoid booking an appointment when you are not menstruating as it makes it slightly more tricky to extract the cervical cells. It is also advisable that you don’t use any kind of lubricant 24 hours before your appointment as this can affect your results.

The appointment itself

The test itself will take on average as little as three minutes:

  • Your nurse will lead you to the treatment room – they will explain what the test will involve and ask you if you have any questions.
  • You will be given a private area, usually behind a curtain where you can get undressed from the waist down.
  • You will lie on the examination bed with either your legs bent up in stirrups or your ankles together and knees apart.
  • The nurse will inform you when your test is going to begin and will insert a clean speculum inside your vagina, which will open up so that your cervix is visible to the nurse.
  • The nurse will then use a small brush or swab to take a small sample. This may feel a little unusual but is not painful.
  • The nurse will then close the speculum, you can get back into a comfortable sitting position and you will be given the privacy to get dressed.

After the screening

You may experience some light spotting but this is quite normal and nothing to worry about. If you find yourself experiencing a great deal of pain, it is important you let your GP or a healthcare professional know.

Why is it so important you attend?

In the UK, there are a reported 3,200 cases of cervical cancer every year and despite this being offered to all women aged 25 – 64, many women can still skip their screening. Understandably the idea of being exposed in front of a medical professional can be a little daunting but the whole process takes only a couple of minutes and could potentially save your life.

Are you looking to book a cervical screening? We understand that talking about your sexual health can be stressful, but our highly experienced staff will put you at ease at our confidential and comfortable clinics, making your smear test as comfortable as possible. Duality Health offers affordable, accessible private healthcare. We offer unprecedented access from our clinics in Newry and Dungannon, delivering high-quality General Practice, Out of Hours Care and Private Medical Services to individuals, families and corporate clients. If you find it difficult to access healthcare when you need it or feel that your concerns are not being met, Duality Health can are here for you. Get in touch today.