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If you have questions or need to talk, call our helpline for information or support.
Have a question? Receive a confidential response via email.
Come to a support event to meet other people who have had a cervical cancer diagnosis.
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Read about ways to cope with any effects of treatment and getting practical support.
June 2023 — Please be aware that this page is currently undergoing review. However, the information
stated is valid.
You may get a letter inviting you to go to a smear test. We know you may find smear tests confusing or worrying, but you are not alone if you feel this way. If you want to ask questions about having a smear test, you can read our information about them. You might want a friend, carer, or learning disability nurse to read it with you. You can also call our free Helpline on 0808 802 8000.
A smear test is a free health test. It is sometimes called cervical screening.
It makes sure your cervix is healthy.
Your cervix is inside your body at the top of your vagina. You cannot see it.
This video is about smear tests. It tells you what happens at a smear test and why it is important. Women with a learning disability are in the video and helped us make it.
All women between age 25 and 64 are asked if they want to have a smear test. In England and Northern Ireland you are invited:
In Scotland and Wales you are invited every 5 years between age 25 and 64.
Smear tests can help stop you getting cervical cancer. It is your choice whether to have a smear test. This information can help you decide.
Some carers, guardians, doctors or nurses don't think women with a learning disability need a smear test.
Sometimes carers and guardians do not know if you are having sex.
Some parents and carers are embarrassed to talk about it. They may not help women with learning disabilities to get a test.
It is important that women with a learning disability are given the option to go to a smear test because it saves 5,000 lives every year.
You get a letter from your doctor asking you to go for a smear test.
You need to call your doctors to book a time and day to go. Book a time and day when you are not having your period.
A nurse usually does the smear test. If you want to make sure a female nurse does it, tell them.
If you want a friend to stay with you, tell them.
You will go into a private room. The nurse will ask about your health.
The nurse will then ask you to take your knickers (underwear) off.
The nurse will ask you to lie down on a bed. You will have a paper sheet over you. This is the time to try to relax.
The nurse will ask you to open your legs. This is so they can put a new, clean plastic or metal speculum inside your vagina. A speculum is a cylinder with a round end that gently opens your vagina. The speculum may feel uncomfortable. If it hurts, tell the nurse to stop.
A small, soft brush is put inside the speculum. It takes a sample of cells from your cervix. This should not hurt.
The speculum is taken out and the test is over. You can leave. The whole visit to the doctor takes 15 minutes at the most.
The sample of cells is tested. You will get a letter with your results in a few weeks. You can talk about your results with your carer, guardian, or learning disability nurse.
If you found this information helpful, you may like our EasyRead booklet. We made it with women with a learning disability. It is about smear tests and it explains:
Lots of people find smear tests confusing and worrying, so you are not alone if you feel this way. If you want to ask questions about having a smear test, you may want to speak to you carer, guardian or learning disability nurse. Or you can call our Helpline on 0808 802 8000.
Artwork includes material from the Inspired EasyRead Collection and cannot be used anywhere else without written permission from Inspired Services. Visit www.inspired.pics