For some women, the first Cervical Screening Test can be a bit worrying, particularly if they're not sure what to expect. The good news is that the whole procedure is usually complete within just a few minutes.

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On the day

When the time has come for your first Cervical Screening Test, try to stay as relaxed as possible. This will help ensure any physical discomfort is kept to a minimum.

The doctor or nurse will ask you to remove your clothing from the waist down, and to lie on your back or side. You might be given a sheet to lie across your stomach and thighs so you'll be a little more covered.

Once you are comfortable. you will be asked to bend your knees so the heels of your feet are near your bottom. After opening your knees, the doctor or nurse can begin the procedure by inserting an instrument called a speculum into your vagina. The speculum holds the walls of the vagina apart and allows a clear view of the cervix. It is usually plastic and disposable, but some cervical screening providers prefer to use a metal one.

For some women, this part of the test can be a little awkward to start with, and you might find it a bit embarrassing. Just remember that this is a common test that most women have, and for the doctor or nurse it's a very normal part of their job.

Once the speculum is in place, a brush is inserted through it to take a sample of cells from the cervix. This may feel a bit strange or uncomfortable but shouldn't be painful, and it takes less than a minute or two. Once the doctor or nurse has taken some cells they will remove the speculum and you will be able to get dressed.

The cells from the cervix will be placed in a tube that contains liquid before the doctor or nurse sends them to a laboratory for a closer look.

Getting your results

It usually takes around two weeks to get your results. Ask your doctor or health provider when they expect to get them back.

The next step

If HPV is not detected, all you need to do is to come back in five years for your next Cervical Screening Test. 

If HPV is found your doctor will let you know what will happen next. Depending on the results, you might have a repeat Cervical Screening Test in 12 months, to see if the HPV infection has cleared, or you might have a follow-up procedure called a colposcopy.

It's important to remember that HPV infections usually clear on their own. Also keep in mind that most abnormal cells are not cervical cancer, and can usually be treated quickly and painlessly.

You can find more information about the test here.