How To Book Your Cervical Screening Test In Ireland

And what to expect from it

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In the last month, we have tragically lost the lives of both Vicky Phelan and Lynsey Bennet. The two women were part of the Cervical Cancer Scandal, which came to light in 2018. Wrongly given the all-clear, both women were later diagnosed with cervical cancer that was beyond curable.

They, along with other brave women and their families, dedicated their lives to campaigning for healthcare reform in Ireland, to ensure that what happened to them and others, will never happen to other women in Ireland again.

In light of Vicky’s recent passing, we’re sharing information on how to obtain a smear test in Ireland.

I’ve never had one before, how do I book it?

In Ireland, anyone with a cervix must wait until they turn 25 to attend their first screening. Once you turn 25, you should make sure that you’re on the Cervical Check register – here.

Once you are registered, you should receive a letter inviting you to book an appointment. With this, you will contact your GP and they will make the appointment with you from there.

Do I need to pay?

No, Cervical Screening is a free service organised by the HSE. However, if you are organising a test when you are not due you, you may be charged.

How often do I need one? 

From the ages of 25-29, you should receive a screening every 3 years. Once you are in the Cervical Check database, you should receive a letter reminding you of your next appointment.

Once you turn 30, you should attend a check every 5 years until the age of 65.

Some people may need to be screened more often depending on their medical history. This should be discussed and agreed on with your GP.

I’ve booked my appointment, what should I expect?

Sometimes, booking the appointment can be the biggest hurdle to jump. If you’re attending your first screening and are unsure about what to expect, here’s a breakdown.

During the exam the nurse or doctor will ask you to lay on your back, usually with your legs bent, feet together, and knees apart. From there, a speculum (in the shape of a small tube), will be inserted into the vagina. Once that is done and the cervix is visible to the doctor, a soft brush is inserted and moved around to collect cell samples from the cervix.

These samples will be sent off and tested to see if human papillomavirus (HPV) is present. If HPV is found, this will then lead the cells on to be tested for abnormal cells.

For a more detailed description of what exactly happens during the screening you can check it out on the HSE website here.

Although it may sound daunting, many people who have received the test before have described the sensation as nothing more than a ‘mild discomfort’.

If you’re curious about seeing what happens first-hand, YouTuber Zoe Sugg shared her screening on her YouTube channel.

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