In Ireland, women can avail themselves of the national cervical screening programme. It’s free,
it’s important, and it’s available through your GP.
What is a cervical smear/ PAP test?
A cervical screening test (previously known as a smear test or PAP test) looks to see if you might
be at greater risk of developing cervical cancer. Cervical screening is not a test for cancer; it is a
test to check the health of the cervical cells of the cervix. Because these cells change in
appearance before becoming cancerous, a cervical screening test can detect warning signs that
cancer might develop, so that preventative action can be taken.
Through the HSE, women between the ages of 25 and 65 are invited to be part of the national
cervical screening programme, having cervical checks every three to five years, free of charge.
Tests may be more regular should abnormalities be detected.
What happens during cervical screening?
First, everything will be explained to you, you can ask questions, and you’ll need to sign consent
For the exam, you will need to take off your clothes from the waist down (it may be helpful to wear a loose skirt, then you can just hitch it up). You’ll lie on your back with your legs apart, knees bent, while the nurse or GP inserts a smooth speculum tool into your vagina to gently open your cervix. Then they’ll take a sample of cells using a soft brush. That’s it!
It may feel a little uncomfortable or embarrassing, but it’s quick and generally painless.
The cells are then sent off for laboratory testing.
Register with Cervical Check here to avail of this free screening programme, update your contact details or find out more.