Cervical Screening (Smear Test) – How It Works

Cervical screening, often known as a smear test or cervical screening test, is an essential part of any woman’s healthcare, and it’s an important measure that can help protect women and prevent cervical cancer. In the UK, women are recommended to undergo regular PAP testing at age 25 and older as part of their routine healthcare regime of regular testing and GP appointments. 


The procedure involves the use of a smooth tube-shaped tool, a speculum, which, although it might look unpleasant and even frightening, is designed especially to be as painless as possible. By following the instructions your GP or nurse gives you, the cervical screening, a small procedure, will be over in a matter of seconds for most people. 


The Right Position

In order for the test to be carried out, you’ll need to lie down on an exam table with your legs bent, feet together. Put the soles of your feet together and let your knees fall to each side, and your doctor or nurse will be able to perform the test more easily. 

Once you’re in position, the healthcare professional will put the speculum into your vagina using a small amount of lubricant – this is done to carefully push the vaginal walls to the side so that the doctor or nurse can get to the cervix, which is what they need to take cells from. When they gently put a smooth tube inside, it makes access much easier. 


Taking the Sample

The cervical screening (smear test) is designed so that cells can be taken from the cervix and sent off for testing to determine whether or not there are abnormalities in the cells (which might indicate cervical cancer). 

Once the speculum is in place, a soft brush or spatula is used to gently put a sample of cells from your cervix into a sample collection tube; this is a crucial step because the cells will be sent off to a lab for testing to see if there are any signs of cervical cancer or the human papillomavirus (HPV) which can lead to cervical cancer. 


Abnormal Cells

Finding out if you have any abnormal cells isn’t something to put off or ignore – knowing is far better than not knowing, even if it’s a frightening prospect because treatment can be started if something is found, making it much more likely that you’ll have a positive outcome. 

As mentioned above, high-risk HPV strains are known to be a major cause of cervical cancer, which is why regular screenings are so vital for women, especially any who might be at high risk of developing the condition because of their age, sexual activity, or family history. 


After the Test

Once your expert NHS GP has taken the small sample of cells they need for the PAP test, the speculum is gently removed, and the doctor will leave you to get dressed

The collected sample from the cervical screening, a smear, will be labelled and then sent off to a lab for cervical screening a small sample, where experts can see if the cells have any signs of infection or any abnormalities. 


Get in Touch Today

If you feel you want to have cervical cancer screening tests for your peace of mind or because you’re concerned about your health, please don’t hesitate to contact us to book your appointment. Our experts are on hand to ensure your health is taken seriously. 

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