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Cervical screening test appointment

1. What happens when you go for a cervical screening test
2. Booking your cervical screening test
3. Cervical screening test appointment
4. Labs we use
5. Private cervical screening tests
6. Your personal information

Your screening test appointment will take about 15 minutes in total. In many GP practices and clinics, you will be able to:

  • have the choice of a GP or nurse to take your screening test
  • bring a friend or family member with you

It's useful to have your Personal Public Service (PPS) number with you. This will help us to make sure we identify your correct records so that we can keep them up-to-date.

Before you have your test, the GP or nurse will talk you through the procedure and answer any questions you have. They should also tell you about the benefits and limitations of screening.

You will also get an information sheet. This also explains the screening test process and its benefits and limitations.

Your GP or nurse will also ask you to sign a consent form before your screening test is carried out.

Consent form

Each time you have a screening test we will ask you to sign a consent form called a 'Cervical Screening Form'. You can download a copy of the CervicalCheck consent form.

Only you can give your consent to be part of our programme. Another person can't give consent on your behalf. You have to sign this form before you have your screening test. This is to confirm that you:

If you cannot sign the form, you will be asked to give your consent either verbally or by making a mark on the form.

You can withdraw your consent at any time by contacting us on freephone 1800 45 45 55.

Informed consent

Before signing the form, you can ask your GP or nurse any questions. This will help you give informed consent. You could ask them to explain:

  • the cervical screening test
  • the possibility that the sample may also be tested for certain types of HPV
  • the likelihood and meaning of a normal result
  • what it means if recalled for further tests
  • when and how you will get your result
  • the importance of having regular screening tests
  • the accuracy and limitations of screening
  • if the results are abnormal, what the next steps might be
  • the risks, limitations, side effects and benefits of each treatment or follow-up option

Most of this information is on the back of the consent form. You can download the 'Information sheet for women'. It's available in 13 languages. You may find it useful to read before your test.

You should only sign the form when you feel you have all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Having a cervical screening test

After you sign the consent form, your screening test will be carried out. The actual screening test usually takes about 5 minutes.

  1. You will be asked to undress from the waist down and lie on a couch, although you can usually remain fully dressed if you're wearing a loose skirt.
  2. You can lie on your side or your back, whichever is more comfortable for you.
  3. The GP or nurse will gently put an instrument called a speculum into your vagina - this holds the walls of the vagina open so the cervix can be seen.
  4. A small soft brush will be used to gently collect a sample of cells from the cervix.

Some women find the procedure slightly uncomfortable or embarrassing, but for most women it's not painful.

If you find the test painful, tell the GP or nurse as they may be able to reduce your discomfort.

Try to relax as much as possible as being tense makes the test more difficult to carry out. Taking slow, deep breaths will help.

The test sample is sent to a quality assured laboratory where two experts will check it.

In the past, you would get your screening test result within 4 to 6 weeks of your test. Currently, results are taking an average of 6 weeks from the time you have your smear test. In some cases, this is taking longer.

Read more about getting the results of your cervical screening test.