Lorraine: Dr Hilary urges women to go for smear test
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Smear tests hurt for a few seconds, and that’s why so many people tend to put them off. Attending a smear test every few years could potentially save your life by preventing cervical cancer, so it’s absolutely worth putting up with temporary discomfort. Book in as soon as you can and don’t make any excuses when the time comes. There’s one question lots of people ask though – can you have a smear test on your period?
How often do you need to get a smear test?
Cervical screenings are a must for women between 25 and 64.
You will get a letter in the post inviting you to make an appointment.
When you’re aged between 25 and 49, you have to have a smear test every three years.
Then when you are 50 to 64 you will only need to go every five years.
Women aged above 65 will only be invited for a test if one of their last three tests gave abnormal results.
How do you book a smear test?
Most smear tests are done in a GP surgery by a female nurse or doctor, but some can be done in local sexual health clinics.
All you have to do is ring up your GP to book an appointment, or you might be able to book it online.
Act quickly to ensure you get seen as soon as possible.
If you missed your last screening, you don’t need to wait for a letter and can book immediately.
What happens during a smear test?
The test takes less than five minutes, and you’ll be in and out of the doctor’s office in 10 minutes.
The doctor will talk you through what’s going to happen.
You will need to undress from the waist down, and you can do this behind a screen.
You will then be given a sheet to put over you to cover the area.
The nurse or doctor will ask you to lie down on a bed, bend your legs and put your feet together with your knees apart.
They will put a smooth, tube-shaped tool in your vagina and open it up so they can see your cervix.
Using a soft brush, the medical professional will take a small sample of cells from your cervix.
Then, they will close and remove the tool and leave you to get dressed.
The nurse or doctor will tell you when you can expect your results letter.
Can you have a smear test on your period?
You can have a smear test on your period, but it is best not to.
Menstrual blood can dilute the cell sample and this could mean you need to have another test.
The NHS site recommends booking an appointment for a time where you are not having your period.
You should also try to avoid the two days before or after you bleed.
Try to book your smear test for a day during the middle of the cycle, which is around 14 days after the start of your last period.
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