What is a 'smear test'?

What is a 'smear test'?

A cervical screening test (sometimes known as a smear test) is carried out to check for abnormal cells on a woman’s cervix. The cervix is the entrance to the womb and is inside the vagina.

Abnormal cells can later lead to cervical cancer which currently affects around 3,000 women every year, so it’s an important test to have.


Who should have a cervical screening test?

Who should have a cervical screening test?

NHS guidelines are for all women (or anyone that has a cervix) to have regular cervical screening from age 25 to 64.

  • aged 25 to 49 – every 3 years
  • aged 50 to 64 – every 5 years
  • over 65 – only women who have recently had abnormal tests
What happens during a cervical screening test?

What happens during a cervical screening test?

If you are registered with a GP you will get a letter inviting you to attend a cervical screening appointment. You should arrange your appointment for a time when you do not have your period.


Where can I access a smear test?

Where can I access a smear test?

Our service is not routinely offering cervical smear tests during the COVID pandemic.

A drop in cervical smear service is available at some local clinics:

  • Tuesday evening from 1730-1930 at Clinic 2, Centre For Women’s Health, Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital
  • Wednesday evening 1730-1930 at Tiverton Community Hospital
  • Tuesday evenings from 1730-1930 at Petter Ward, Ladywell Unit, North Devon District Hospital
How can we help you?

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Accessing our service

In response to the emergence of COVID-19 we have implemented a telephone triage system for all of our clinics. Our central telephone number is 0300 303 3989.

We are currently experiencing high demand for our Sexual Health Services across Devon and Torbay with unprecedented demand in Exeter. Please note always review urgent cases the same day. If your need is urgent and you are struggling to reach us keep trying as our phone system will explain how to access same-day care with us.

We have updated information on the provision of routine contraception here.

Self-requested STI testing by post is available for those aged under 25- more info

We are now running an under 18’s sit and wait clinic at Exeter, Torquay, and Barnstaple for more information click here

If you are struggling to access sexual health services, alternatives may be available:

  • Emergency Contraception - from a local pharmacy - more info
  • Contraceptive pills and LARC procedures - obtained from your GP
  • HIV PEPSE - available via A+E departments - more info
  • Condoms by post (for gay and bisexual men only) - more info