Frequently Asked Questions

I'm trying to get pregnant - should I have cervical screening?

Having cervical screening when you are (or might be) pregnant isn’t recommended. However, in some circumstances if a patient has had an abnormal result she may be recalled. If that happens it is best to discuss this with your GP.

I have always attended for cervical screening and have never had an abnormal result. Now I'm pregnant, should I accept my invitation?

If you have a normal smear history then it's better to wait until about three months after you have had your baby before you go for cervical screening.

When is the best time in the menstrual cycle to have cervical screening?

Mid-cycle is best as we are more likely to obtain a good sample that can be easily read by the laboratory. This is not vital so an appointment near the beginning or end could be fine.

It is important not to make an appointment when you have a period, even a light one or if you are spotting near the end or beginning of a period.

Will cervical screening pick up any other infections?

Other infections may be picked up when we do a smear and if so will be reported to your GP. Your letter may advise you to see your GP, not because of abnormal cells, but because an infection has been detected. As an add on to your smear  we can also ask the lab to test for the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) this is thought to be the cause of cervical cancer in many cases. The Cancer Research UK website has lots of information you may find useful.  

I've had a hysterectomy - do I still need cervical screening?

If you have had a hysterectomy and are concerned about symptoms, such as bleeding between periods or after sex, you should see your GP straight away. 

Most hysterectomies remove the cervix as well so cervical screening is not necessary. Your surgeon should have advised you on this after your operation.

What age can I have cervical screening?

In the private sector we can do a smear on any adult. If you are under 25 and sexually active and would like a smear we can do one for you. We can also offer smears to you if you are over 65.

The NHS in England will not invite you for screening until you are nearly 25 and stop at 65 – see their website for their reasons why. 

I'm worried about abnormal vaginal bleeding. Could I have cervical screening?

Having a smear is a routine way of checking that you haven’t got cells showing early changes on your cervix. If you have symptoms this may part of what is needed, but do not delay seeing your doctor – If you come to us for a smear, we will do this for you but will also advise you to consult your GP. It is important not to delay. 

My cervical screening test result came back as inadequate. Why do I have to wait three months before repeating the test?

You need to wait three months for the cells to regenerate. This is so there will be enough cells to collect the next time.

How long will it take for me to get the results?

You will receive a letter from the nurse in two weeks. At the same time the nurse will have sent a letter to your GP. The letter will tell you if your smear was negative or if you need to make an appointment to see your GP. The nurse or the laboratories are not allowed to give you results over the phone.

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