What is a Smear Test?

A smear test is a cervical cancer screening, that helps prevent cervical cancer. During the test a trained clinician takes a sample of cells from your cervix using a small soft brush, the test only takes a few minutes. The sample is then tested for certain types of HPV that are considered “high risk”. 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. A smear test is the best way to protect yourself against cervical cancer.


Who should get a smear test?

In the NHS women over the age of 24 will be invited to have a smear test every 3-5 years until the age of 64. At Doctors Clinic Group we can offer a smear to women who are sexually active, outside of the 3 -5-year window, if you wanted a smear for additional peace of mind or have been advised by a specialist.

You should speak to a doctor if you have experienced any of the following symptoms so they can evaluate whether a smear test is appropriate:

  • Unusual vaginal bleeding
  • Changes to your vaginal discharge
  • Pain when having sex
  • Pain in your lower back, pelvis or abdomen


Who shouldn’t get a smear test?

You shouldn’t have a smear test if:

  • You have never had sex
  • You are on your period, please wait until it has come to an end
  • You are experiencing abnormal bleeding (please speak with a doctor for advice)
  • You are pregnant
  • You have previously had cervical cancer
  • You are less than 12 weeks post-natal
  • You have undergone a total or partial hysterectomy (where your cervix was removed)
  • You have used vaginal lubricants or creams 2 days prior to your smear appointment

If you have concerns about cervical cancer but are unable to have a smear test due to the above criteria, you can still book an appointment with a GP who can advise and provide support and reassurance.

What will happen during the appointment:

  1. The Doctor or Nurse will discuss your previous smear history and explain the smear test, results and referral process.
  2. You’ll be asked to undress from the waist down. This will happen behind a screen or in another private area. When you’re ready, you’ll be given a sheet to cover yourself with.
  3. The doctor or nurse will direct you to lie on your back, usually with your legs bent, feet together and knees apart.  
  4. They’ll gently insert a smooth, tube-shaped instrument called a speculum into your vagina.  
  5. They will then open the speculum so they can see your cervix – this shouldn’t hurt, but may feel a little uncomfortable.
  6. With a soft brush, they’ll take a small sample of cells from your cervix.
  7. They will then close and remove the speculum and leave you to get dressed. 
  8. The sample of cells will then be sent to a lab for analysis.  

If you have any concerns before your appointment you can ask the nurse or doctor performing the smear test any questions at all. Even though smear tests are painless they can feel a little daunting and it is normal for women to feel nervous but rest assured, our nurses and doctors will do their utmost to make you feel as comfortable as possible.

If at any point you wish to stop the test, inform the nurse or doctor and they will stop immediately.


What will happen after the appointment?

After the appointment, you may notice some bleeding which is very common and should stop after a few hours.

If you have a smear test with the Doctors Clinic Group then you should receive your results with in 3-5 working days. Your results will be one of the following:

NEGATIVE HR-HPV - HPV not found in your sample: No follow-up would be required and you will receive your results via email from a Nurse or GP. You will also be recommended to conduct a routine smear test every 3 years as per the standard recall protocol.

POSITIVE HR-HPV with NORMAL CYTOLOGY - HPV detected in your sample: Your sample was sent for further testing known as cytology, there were no changes to the cells on the cervix. You will receive your results via email from a Nurse or GP. You will also be recommended to conduct a routine smear test in 12 months' time, as per the new standard recall protocol.

POSITIVE HPV and ABNORMAL CYTOLOGY - HPV detected in your sample: Your sample was sent for further testing known as cytology and abnormal cells were found in the Cytology process (Dyskaryosis). You will receive your results via email from a Nurse or GP who will recommended that you are referred for further testing known as Colposcopy. We can organise a private referral to a consultant Gynaecologist for you to undergo the necessary follow up and/or notify your NHS GP of your results so they may help to facilitate an urgent referral for you via the NHS Pathway.

NB: All smear results, both positive and negative will be routinely shared with your NHS GP.

How can I book an appointment?

You can book an appointment with us online at a time that suits you. We have regular appointments available at a number of our central London Clinics.


For more information or advice on Cervical Screening visit: