7 Smear Test Questions Answered in Body

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Smear tests can seem pretty scary and embarrassing, but we promise you there's nothing to worry about. 

1) What is a smear test?

Smear tests check for signs of cervical cancer by collecting cells from your cervix. Eek, we know this sounds a bit uncomfortable but it's actually not very painful at all, and it's over and done with in just a couple of minutes.

If you're feeling especially nervous tell your doctor or nurse and they can help to relax you and make sure you're comfortable

2) How old do I need to be to have a smear test?

In Scotland, women are offered smear tests every 3 years from the ages of 25-49, and every 5 years from the age of 50-64.

If you notice any symptoms of cervical cancer at a younger age, you can request a smear test from your GP.

3) Will I have to undress?

We know the thought of having a stranger roam around your private parts is a little awkward, but  doctors and nurses see hundreds of patients every week and aren't embarrassed about seeing any part of your body.

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For a smear test you just have to remove the bottom half of your clothing. If you're feeling a little nervous, it's a good idea to wear a dress or a long top to help keep you covered up.

You can request to been seen by a female nurse or doctor, or to have an extra person in the room, if this makes you more comfortable

4) I’ve had my HPV vaccination, do I still need to go for a smear test?

The HPV jag helps protect you against certain strains of cervical cancer, but not all, so you'll still need to go for your smear test.

5) I haven’t had sex, do I need to have a smear test?

If you've not had sex there's less risk of you having HPV, but it’s best to be on the safe side and get tested regardless of your sexual history.

This applies to everyone – heterosexual, gay and bisexual women, and in some cases transgender men.

6) Will a smear test hurt more if I've never had sex?

Before having your test, let your nurse know that you've never had sex before and are feeling a little nervous. This will let them choose the right size of speculum for the test and put you at ease.

7) I'm a trans man, will I need to get a smear test?

If you are a man who was assigned female at birth and still have a cervix, it is recommended that you have a cervical screen at least every three years. Check out this article from the NHS and cliniQ,  a sexual health and well-being service for trans people that talks about cervical screenings. 

Don't put it off:

Cervical screenings save around 5,000 lives every year in the UK.

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If a couple of minutes of uncomfortableness can help save your life, it's definitely worth it.

Find out more about what happens during a smear test.