Smear Tests

Smear Tests

Smear tests for women are provided for free as part of the health screen as our doctors are fully registered with cervical check see below. Note we have a turnaround time of 2 weeks on these results.

The following questions are most commonly asked by women attending for their free smear test:

About Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is a cancer of the cells of the cervix (neck of the womb). Cervical cancer is the second most common female cancer in Europe. Cervical cells change slowly and take many years to develop into cancer cells, making cervical cancer a preventable disease.

How can I reduce my risk of getting cervical cancer?

-Have a regular smear test to pick up any early problems.
-Stop smoking
-Visit your doctor if you have any concerns or symptoms such as irregular vaginal bleeding, spotting or discharge.

How is a smear test taken?

A smear test is a very simple procedure that takes less than five minutes. It may be slightly uncomfortable but should not be painful.

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 brush to gently remove a sample of cells from the cervix. This sample is sent to the laboratory to be checked.

How often should I have a smear test?

After the first smear test, women aged 25 to 44 will be invited by CervicalCheck to have a free smear test every three years. We will invite women aged 45 to 60 to have a free smear test every five years once they have had two ‘no abnormality detected’ smear test results at three yearly intervals.
CervicalCheck will advise you when your next free smear test is due. If you have any unusual or irregular vaginal bleeding, spotting or discharge, do not wait for your next smear test – contact your doctor immediately.

How will CervicalCheck use my information?

We will use your details to:
-invite you for a free CervicalCheck smear when your test is due
-advise you if any further treatment is needed or when to have your next smear test
-include in statistics and reports – this will help to review CervicalCheck and find out how well it is working
-possibly invite you to take part in research

Is consent necessary?

A woman is asked to sign a consent form prior to her free smear test. This consent allows CervicalCheck to receive, hold and use a woman’s personal details and information about her smear test sample. This may include past smear samples and colposcopy results.
CervicalCheck may share this information with the doctor or nurse who took your smear test (smeartaker), laboratory staff, colposcopy clinic, the National Cancer Registry and their servants or agents.


CervicalCheck will send you a letter about your results within four weeks of your smear test. The result of your test will also be available from your smeartaker.

Most smear test results are found to be normal. Please try not to worry if you are called back for another test. The result could be due to an infection or minor cells changes that may or may not need treatment.
If your result is not normal you may need to have another free smear test or a more detailed examination of the cervix using a type of microscope. This test is called a colposcopy. If there are cell changes on your cervix they can be easily treated to prevent them developing into cancer cells.

What if I’ve had a hysterectomy?

If you have had a hysterectomy, you should check with your doctor to see if you need to continue having regular smear tests. In general, the need to screen after a hysterectomy will depend on whether you have a cervix.

What is a colposcopy?

A colposcopy is a simple examination that is carried out the same way as a smear test. A doctor or nurse will look at the cervix using a type of microscope called a colposcope. During the examination, a liquid or dye may be applied to the cervix to help identify any changes to the cells. A colposcopy can be done safely during pregnancy.
Before the colposcopy, the doctor or nurse should explain:
-the colposcopy examination,
-the possible treatments for changes in the cells of the cervix, and
-any risks linked to the treatment.

What is a smear test?

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. A smear test can identify cell changes before they become cancer cells. If these cells are not found and treated, they could become cancerous.

What is cervical screening?

Cervical screening tests women for changes in the cells of the cervix (neck of the womb) by a smear test.

What is CervicalCheck?

CervicalCheck – The National Cervical Screening Programme is a Government-funded service that provides free smear tests to women aged 25 to 60.

What is the CervicalCheck register?

The CervicalCheck register is a secure electronic database that contains your name, address, date of birth and Personal Public Service Number (PPS No.). The register also records your smear test results and any related procedures that you might have had.
Be assured that your information is secure. To maintain confidentiality, you will be given a unique identification number by the CervicalCheck register. You can make sure you are on the register by calling CervicalCheck on Freephone 1800 45 45 55 or checking online at To keep the register up to date, please let us know if there is any change to your personal details such as name or address.
The Health (Provision of Information) Act 1997 allows CervicalCheck get your name, address and date of birth so that we can invite you for regular free smear tests.

When is the best time to have a smear test?

The best time to attend for your smear test is mid-cycle – that is, 10 to 14 days after the first day of your period (if you are having periods).

Where can I have a smear test?

You can choose to have a free smear test from any smeartaker (doctor or nurse) registered with CervicalCheck. For example:
-General Practitioners (GPs) and practice nurses,
-Family Planning Clinics, and
-Well Woman Centres or Women’s Health Clinics.

Who should have a smear test?

Every woman aged between 25 and 60 should have a regular smear test and continue to have regular smear tests after the menopause. If you are aged over 60 years and have never had a smear test, please contact your local CervicalCheck registered smeartaker to discuss your cervical screening needs.

Why should I have this test?

Quite simply, having a regular smear test could save your life.