A cervical screening test (previously known as a smear test) is for detecting abnormal cells on the cervix. The cervix is the entrance to the womb.
A study found about a quarter of eligible women didn’t go for a cervical screening test. That astounds me! Let me give you the facts and a Q&A about why going for a smear test is so damn important.
How old do I have to be?
From the age of 25, all women are invited to have a smear test (cervical screening) every three to five years until they’re 64.Even if you’ve never had sex, you should still have regular smear tests. The reason it is over 25 is that as a teenager you’re still developing so it can be difficult to get an accurate reading. However, if you start to see any symptoms you should also contact your doctors.
So what symptoms do I need to look for to see if I need a smear test?
Symptoms can be, but not always including:
- abnormal bleeding, such as bleeding between menstrual periods, after sex, after a pelvic exam, or after menopause.
- discharge that’s unusual in amount, colour, consistency, or smell.
- having to go to urinate more frequently.
- pelvic pain.
- painful urination
I’ve heard it hurts, does it?
You can have smear tests for a range of different reasons, speaking from experience (as I was ill when I was a teenager so had quite a lot of these) these do not hurt at all! You may feel discomfort but it takes minutes and before you know it it is all over.
How do I book one?
So before your 25th birthday, you should receive a letter from your GP asking you to ring them to book a smear test in. You need to be registered with the doctors for this to come through though. If you have not received a letter or can’t remember the last time you had one please ring the doctors. They will be able to tell when you last had one or book you in. Don’t wait another couple of years to see if you will receive a letter then. A Smear Test Is So Damn Important.
So I have just had one, what happens now?
The test results can take anywhere from 2 – 6 weeks. Sometimes quicker. Sometimes the doctors will ring you or a letter is sent to you, but sometimes you will need to ring them for the results. Depending on your results you may need to book another test for another smear test because your cells came back abnormal. If this happens your doctors will talk you through everything. Usually, they test the cells again and they are removed. You are asked back in 6 months to check again.
If everything is fine, you will go back into the normal cycle of testing. However, some women may need further treatment.
Why Is Going For A Smear Test So Damn Important?
While it’s not a test for cervical cancer itself, it helps discover cells that, if left untreated, could have the potential to develop into cancer. Most women who have the smear test show that everything is normal, but for around 1 in 20, the test picks up some abnormalities.
These cells may go back to normal on their own but in some cases, they will need to be removed so they don’t become cancerous.
So please, if you have been putting off your smear test because you are scared or just can’t be bothered please, please, please go and get it done. The appointment literally lasts 5 minutes and your doctors can generally fit the times to suit you. It could just save your life.