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.


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Accessing the Service during the COVID crisis

How to access the service:

We have now implemented a telephone triage system for all of our clinics. This system will be in place for the duration of the pandemic. Please contact our services to access this triage system. Our central telephone number is 0300 303 3989.

If you are experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus please do not attend the clinic. Clear advice for people with early symptoms of coronavirus is available online at nhs.uk/coronavirus .

Please be aware that we may have to cancel, rearrange or shut clinical services in response to changing clinical and staffing pressures created by the Coronavirus outbreak. 

Advice from our service:

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

Information is now also available to advise on sexual contact during a time of social distancing here.

There is also specific advice on coronavirus available for People Living with HIV here, and for pregnant women here

Self-requested Sexual Health screening by post is available for for under 25s only - more info here

For others with testing requirements please contact the service on 0300 303 3989.

Alternative provision:

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

  • Emergency Contraception - at your local pharmacy - more info
  • Contraceptive pills - obtained from your GP
  • HIV postal testing - available to at-risk groups for a small fee -  more info
  • HIV PEPSE - available via A+E departments - more info
  • Condoms by post (for gay and bisexual men only) - more info