This week is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week and here at Lewisham Children & Family Centres alongside Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust we wanted you to have all the information you need to make informed choices about your health.
Many people have worries about cervical screening (Smear Test). What it involves, will it hurt and who will do the test are among some of the common worries. There can be feelings of embarrassment, fear and the feeling that we can put it off to another day but, regular screening can help to find any changes really early ensuring that you can get treatment quickly and easily.
“One in three women and people with a cervix don’t attend cervical screening and we want to change that. However cervical cancer prevention doesn’t stop at screening.
220,000 women and people with a cervix every year are told they have cervical cell changes after their screening, and many more are given a HPV diagnosis. This can mean more tests and treatments, and for some it can be incredibly hard time. We want everyone to have the information and support they need. So we want you to join us and share tips, facts, and most importantly help others know they aren’t alone.”
What happens at a cervical screening?
At your cervical screening (smear test) appointment, a nurse takes a sample of cells from your cervix using a small, soft brush. The test only takes a few minutes. If you feel worried about going for cervical screening, you are not alone. It may help to know as much as possible about what going for cervical screening is like. You could ask someone you trust about their experience, speak with your nurse or doctor, or call our free Helpline on 0808 802 8000 for more support. Check our Helpline opening hours >
Booking your cervical screening appointment
If you are registered with a GP, you will get a letter telling you it is time for your cervical screening appointment. You have to contact your GP to book an appointment. You can usually do this online or over the phone. In some areas, sexual health clinics offer cervical screening if you aren’t able to access, or don’t feel comfortable at, your GP surgery. If it’s been a while since your last screening and you want to check when it’s due you can ask your GP Surgery and if it’s due they can make an appointment with a nurse at your surgery.
It’s been ages since I’ve been for screening so I’m a bit embarrassed to book
There’s no need to feel embarrassed if you’ve missed an appointment or never had screening before. Your nurse will be delighted that you’ve booked your appointment and will do her very best to make you feel comfortable and talk you through the process if you have any concerns.
Is it safe during COVID-19?
Your GP surgery will be doing all they can to make the service safe. If you are concerned you can ask your surgery what measures they have in place when you make your appointment.
I’m pregnant or have recently had a baby what do I do about Cervical Screening?
the NHS states:
“You will not usually need to have cervical screening if you’re pregnant, or could be pregnant, until at least 12 weeks after you’ve given birth. This is because pregnancy can make it harder to get clear results. If you’re already pregnant and due for a cervical screening test then tell the GP or clinic. You will usually be advised to reschedule the test for a date around 12 weeks after your baby is born. If you’ve previously had an abnormal result from a cervical screening test, you may need to be screened while you’re pregnant. Your GP or midwife may ask you to have a cervical screening test at your first antenatal appointment. This test will not affect your pregnancy.”
Can I ask for a smaller speculum as I found it uncomfortable last time and it’s really put me off?
Yes, your practitioner will have a selection of different sizes and will be more than happy to try a smaller one.
When and How will I receive my results?
Results typically take 4-6 weeks and they will arrive by post.
Whether it’s your first time or you have been before, going for cervical screening may make you anxious, especially if you are worried about coronavirus. If you have questions or need some emotional support, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust are here for you before and after on 0808 802 8000.
We also have a welcoming community in our online Forum, where you can get and give support. There are lots of conversations about cervical screening, so you can choose to read existing threads or post your own messages.
If you have general questions about cervical screening, our Ask the Expert service may be able to help. Submit your question confidentially to our panel of experts and get a tailored reply.
Whether it’s your first time or you have been before, going for cervical screening may make you anxious, especially if you are worried about coronavirus. If you have questions or need some emotional support, we are here for you before and after on 0808 802 8000.