Explained: What to expect during your cervical cancer screening appointment

Do not feel embarrassed!

Most women have a range of emotions before attending their cervical screening appointment.

So, here is everything you need to know before your appointment.

It is important to understand a cervical screening is 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 tested for changes to the cells of your cervix. Finding abnormal changes early means they can be monitored or treated so they do not get a chance to turn into cervical cancer.


What is the procedure? 

Step 1: The nurse or Doctor will greet you and make you feel welcome, here you are free to share any issues you are concerned about or ask any relevant questions.

Step 2: You will then be asked to go behind a screen. Here you will take your bottom half of clothing off, then you will be given a sheet to cover yourself as much as you feel comfortable.

Step 3: You will then lay down and will be asked to put your feet together and relax your legs.

Speculum image from Wikimedia Commons


Step 4: They will then put a lubricant on the speculum, which is a see through tool used to open your vagina, to ensure they can swab the inside and make you feel no pain and are relaxed during the procedure.

Step 5: You will then be asked to take a deep breath. Relax. And the nurse or Doctor will insert the swab (you will feel a tickle, but no pain at all).

Step 6: The nurse or Doctor will remove the swab gently and the speculum.

You will then get your results by letter, usually in about 2 weeks. Further information will be added to the letter if need be.

Former Nurse Caroline Davies says: “There is no need to be afraid or nervous to attend or even book your appointment, we take care of our patients and encourage them to take care of their health.”


Why is it important? 

Please watch this video as to why you should attend your cervical screening appointment.

The nurses are there to ensure you feel safe and comfortable during your appointment. It is important to understand why having a cervical test can benefit you. Please read the following stories to understand the benefit of cervical testing.


Support from the Cervical Screening Programme

If you desire extra information about being invited for a cervical screening, or how to access your results, you are able to contact the Public Health England (PHE) screening help desk with the following options:

Support for all

If you would like more information about the procedure and support for attending your appointment, you can contact Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust by: