The cervical screening test (smear test) involves taking a sample from your cervix (neck of your womb) and examining it for the presence of HPV.
You'll have the test at your GP surgery. The test usually takes no more than 5 minutes.
Before the test
At your GP surgery, a health professional will check your details and explain the test to you. You'll have an opportunity to ask questions.
If you’d like them to send your results to another address, please tell the person doing the test.
Your cervical screening appointment will last about 10-15 minutes from start to finish.
The test itself should take no longer than 5 minutes.
Taking the test
Before the test starts, you'll be asked to undress from the waist down (or just to remove your underwear if you're wearing a skirt). You'll also be given a sheet to cover yourself.
You'll be asked to lie on an examination bed. Your nurse or GP will gently insert a speculum into your vagina to hold it open so they can see your cervix.
They'll then gently brush cells from the cervix using a soft brush. You can ask for a smaller speculum if you feel any discomfort.
After the test
You’ll usually get your results in the post within 2 weeks. If you'd like these sent to another address, please tell the person doing the test.
The results will also be sent to whoever took your test and your GP.
If you haven’t received your results within 4 weeks, contact your GP practice.
Your test samples
Your cervical screening test sample is sent to a laboratory where it will be tested for HPV.
If HPV is found, the same sample will then be examined for cell changes.
It will be kept for at least 10 years to compare tests at different times.
You'll be contacted if the results suggest your care should be changed in any way.
Your sample may be tested again so the NHS can evaluate how well it's preventing cancer.