The Facts

the factsUnderstanding more about smear tests and your cervix can help you feel more comfortable and at ease about yours.

What is a cervix?

  • The cervix is a strong muscle in your womb – it looks a bit like a doughnut with a dimple in the middle. It plays an important role in conceiving and giving birth.
  • Everyone’s cervix is different and they come in lots of shapes and sizes. They change throughout the month too – sometimes firmer, sometimes softer.

Who should be screened?

  • 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.

What is the screening for?

  • A smear test isn’t a test for cancer – it’s a pre-cancer screening to notice any changes to your cervix before they become a problem.
  • Most test results come back clear – 95% of them in fact.
  • Cervical cancer is rare – it makes up less than 1% of all cancer cases. That’s partly because smear tests are good at catching and treating potential problems early enough to prevent it.

How long does the screening take?

  • Smear tests are quick and effective – they only take about five minutes and early detection prevents up to 75% of cervical cancers.

Who will carry out the procedure?

  • Most people who carry out smear tests are women, but you can always ask for a female doctor or nurse just to make sure.