1B The Causeway, Goring By Sea, Worthing, BN12 6FA

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Smear Tests

Cervical screening is for people with a cervix. We offer screening every 3 years from age 25 to 49 and every 5 years from age 50 to 64. This is because most cervical cancers develop between these ages. First invitations arrive a few months before people turn 25. You can book your appointment as soon as you get your invitation. We invite some people more often due to a previous screening result (see below).

You should consider having screening regardless of your sexual orientation, sexual history, or whether you have had the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination.

If you are a transgender (trans) man registered with your GP as female, we will send you invitations for cervical screening. If you are registered as male you won’t receive invitations, but your GP or practice nurse can arrange an appointment for you if you have a cervix. If you are a trans woman you don’t need cervical screening.

  • Cervical screening (a smear test) checks the health of your cervix. The cervix is the opening to your womb from your vagina.
  • It’s not a test for cancer, it’s a test to help prevent cancer.
  • During the screening appointment, a small sample of cells will be taken from your cervix.
  • The sample is checked for certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that can cause changes to the cells of your cervix. These are called “high risk” types of HPV.
  • If these types of HPV are not found, you do not need any further tests.
  • If these types of HPV are found, the sample is then checked for any changes in the cells of your cervix. These can then be treated before they get a chance to turn into cervical cancer.
  • You’ll get your results by letter, usually in about 2 weeks. It will explain what happens next.

Here at the Strand, we understand how apprehensive many people will be if they have never experienced a smear test before. We have created this page to help you understand what will happen at your appointment so you can prepare in the best way for you.

This video from Youtube influencer Zoe Sugg is very informative and easy to digest. She takes you through the whole process alongside the nurse and asks all of the relevant questions.

Ask the nurse:

We understand that you must have many questions, and how it can be awkward and uncomfortable to ask in person or over the phone. With that in mind, we have created the below form to enable to you ask your questions anonymously, and they will then be posted on this page for you to see, and for others to benefit from the response. No matter how crude or ‘uncomfortable’, our nurses are not fazed about any question, so please ask anything. We are eager to get as many people in for their smear as possible, as it is very important in preventing cancer!

Please note, this form is not used for the booking of smears, or for any other queries that are not surrounding smears.

Smear Questions

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Questions and answers:

Can I have a smear test whilst menstruating?

Unfortunately you should not have a cervical screening whilst you have your period, as it can make it harder to get a result.

The reception team will be more than happy to rearrange your cervical screening for you, on a day that you are not menstruating.

I have had previous issues with nurses finding it difficult to get a sample during my smear; can I discuss this with someone before booking my appointment?

Yes, we can always phone and discuss before hand. We can offer suggestions, possible sedatives if needed, investigate who performed your previous smears, and make sure we have an experienced nurse performing the next one. We often have techniques we can use on the day when someone tells us they have had issues in the past.

If you would like to speak to a nurse before booking your appointment, please call the surgery during a quiet period (10am-3pm) and mention this to a receptionist, who will ask a nurse to call you back.

Due to Vaginismus it has been suggested (by a private clinic) that I look for a clinic that offers sedation to carry out a smear test. Is this something you offer and if so what would be the process?

If you let the nurse or GP know prior, they could prescribe you some Valium or Diazepam which would help to relax you, but this would not put you to sleep. You could also take some painkillers beforehand if you wish.


If you need this information in another language:

Cervical screening: leaflet for women considering screening – GOV.UK (

Support for learning disabilities:

Cervical screening: supporting women with learning disabilities – GOV.UK (

Easy read:

NHS population screening: access for all – GOV.UK (



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