Cervical screening is a smear test what checks the health of your cervix. The cervix is the opening to your womb from your vagina. It is not a test for cancer, its a test to prevent cancer. All woman and people with a cervix, aged 25 to 64 should have one.
What happens at a cervical screening? At your cervical screening appointment, a nurse takes a sample of cells from your cervix using a small, soft brush. They send this to a lab to test for high-risk human papillomavirus in short HPV, any cervical cell changes.
For ten minutes, feeling uncomfortable a little embarrassment is nothing compared to saving your life.
For a lot of people, this is one thing a lot of woman dread, and sometimes they can hurt but speak with the nurse who is carrying out the test and tell her how you are feeling so she can put you at ease while you’re having it done. You can always take someone in with you while you’re having it done for support, so you are not alone. There are many reasons why it might be painful for some people and others not, and there are many reasons why listed below:
Cervical ectropion ( cervical erosion)
Vaginal dryness ( the nurse can use lubrication to help with the procedure)
Vaginismus, which is when the vagina suddenly tightens as you try and put something into it
Clenching, or feeling unable to relax ( please speak with your doctor and see if they can give you something to relax you while you are having the procedure)
Remember, you can ask the nurse for a smaller speculum as they come in all different sizes.
If you do suffer from vaginal dryness, you can ask the nurse to give you some vaginal oestrogen cream or pessary.
If you are more compatible with a female doctor or nurse doing the test, then ask for one.
You can wear comfortable clothing so nothing is tight on your stomach as sometimes you can experience pain similar to menstrual cramps afterwards.
Everyone is different and responds to pain in different ways, so make sure you are prepared before you go, so nothing is a big shock.
It’s normal to experience light bleeding or spotting for a few hours after your smear test. Remember to pack sanitary towels just in case.
The best time to have a smear test is when you are not on your period as it can affect the test. Ideally, you would arrange it for somewhere in the middle of the cycle. I know this can be such a pain if you have irregular bleeding but its still possible to have the test, so speak with the doctor regarding this.
You should get your test results back within 14 days but sometimes can take longer to arrive. If your results come back abnormal, it means your doctor found atypical cells on your cervix. It dissent means you have cervical cancer. Most often, the abnormal test results indicate there have been some cell changes caused by HPV.
If your smear test comes back unclear or inconclusive, the next step would be a colposcopy. A colposcopy is a procedure in which your doctor uses a microscope to inspect your cervix. Your doctor will use a specific solution during the colposcopy to help differentiate natural areas from abnormal ones. During this, he will take a small piece of abnormal tissue; this is called a cone biopsy.
Any abnormal cells can be destroyed by freezing. Known as cryosurgery, or removed using a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP). Removing abnormal cells can prevent cervical cancer from ever developing.
If the biopsy confirms cancer, treatment will depend on other factors, such a stage and tumour grade.
Most cervical cancers are detected at the microscopic stage and can be treated in some cases without significant surgery.
While about 1 in 20 women will have a smear test result which will be abnormal, only about 1 in 2000 will have cervical cancer. That means approximately 1% of woman with any grade of abnormal smear will have a tumour.
Please get a smear test its worth it, and for a few minutes of discomfort, it could save your life…