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17th June 2021

Tips to make your smear test more comfortable

This week marks Cervical Screening Awareness Week (15-21st June) and it is extremely important to attend your regular cervical screening when due. By not missing your appointment, it helps to save approximately 5,000 lives a year. Pre pandemic, out of the 5 million invitations sent every year, 25% of people do not attend. It is estimated that 1 in 8 of those who would have attended their smear, delayed their appointment amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and during the lockdowns.

Here we have outlined some tips to make your smear test more comfortable:

  • Listen to music or watch TV: Take your headphones and your phone and get prepared to zone out & don’t worry, if you do forget your headphones ask the nurse if she minds you watching or listening anyway.⁠
  • Paracetamol: Take a dose of paracetamol 30 minutes before your smear which will take some of the discomfort away.⁠
  • Equipment: Ask, if available, for the nurse to use a plastic speculum or a small speculum. Plastic is often warmer than metal and it’s clear so it’s easier for the nurse to see the cervix and a smaller speculum is more comfortable. If you have Vaginismus, ask for a smaller speculum or you could ask to insert the speculum yourself
  • Count from 1 to 100: Paula Radcliffe used to use this strategy towards the end of her marathon and many patients have found it useful – often it is done well before you get to 50.⁠
  • Retroverted uterus: Try having the smear with your fists behind your lower back, adjust position on the couch for comfort
  • Menopause: you may benefit from vaginal oestrogen for two weeks prior to the appointment.
  • Too little lubricant used during exam: you can ask for some more lubricant.


Make an appointment ⁠
If your smear test is overdue, please don’t delay, book it today with your GP or gynaecologist. At London Gynaecology, we are seeing patients for routine cervical screening along with colposcopy procedures. Please do not hesitate to contact us for appointments and enquiries on 020 7101 1700. or by emailing [email protected]

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