Cervical Screening

Nurses/Midwives/doctors in the health centres are registered with the National Cervical Screening Programme.

The following information has been provided by Cervical Check, the National Cervical Screening Programme

What is a smear test and how is it taken?

A smear test (sometimes called a pap test) is used for cervical screening. It is a simple procedure where a doctor or nurse (smeartaker) takes a sample of cells from the cervix (neck of the womb) to look for early changes on the cells of the cervix. A smear test can identify cell changes before they become cancer cells. If these cells are not found and treated, they could become cancerous over time.

A smear test is a very simple procedure that takes approximately five minutes. It may be slightly uncomfortable but should not be painful. It is expected that the entire appointment should generally take about 15 minutes in the doctor's surgery or health clinic.

You may lie on your side or on your back for your smear test. The doctor or nurse taking the test will gently insert an instrument called a speculum into your vagina to hold it open. The cervix is the area where the top of the vagina leads to the uterus (womb). The doctor or nurse will use a small, specialised broom to gently brush off a sample of cells from the cervix. This sample is sent to the laboratory to be checked.

A smear test is not a diagnostic test. It is not required for clinical investigation of fibroids, cysts, heavy or painful periods or pain during intercourse. A smear test is not used to detect any changes in the womb, the fallopian tubes or the ovaries. If you have any concerns about any of these issues you should speak to your GP or nurse.

Who should have a smear test?

Women aged 25 to 60 should have a regular smear test and continue to have regular smear tests after the menopause. It should be taken every 3 years from the age of 25-44 and every 5 years from the age of 45-60 years.

If you are in the above age group, please make an appointment with the secretary in either health centre advising the secretary that the appointment is for a smear test (This is to allow more time for your appointment). The nurses usually perform the smear tests . Please bring along your PPS number with you.

If you are not in the above age group and have any concerns, please feel free to make appt with a nurse in either health centre to discuss the matter. For more information click here.