Eight tips to make cervical screening more comfortable
Cervical screening only takes a few minutes and should not hurt, however some people may find it difficult, uncomfortable or embarrassing.
Getting regular screening is the best way to prevent cervical cancer. If your results are normal (meaning no HPV was found), you only need a Cervical Screening Test once every five years.
If you're worried or anxious about your test, here are our eight tips to make you feel more at ease.
1. Find a doctor or nurse you can trust
If you do not have a regular doctor or are not comfortable with your current one, ask your friends for recommendations. Word-of-mouth recommendations are often the best way to find a doctor or nurse you can trust.
Some people prefer a female doctor performs their Cervical Screening Test. For others, it is enough to know their male doctor is experienced and sensitive.
Need a cervical screening provider near you?
Find a suitable GP near you: Health Direct's comprehensive search tool.
Find a Women's Health Nurse near you: Australian Women's Health Nurse Association website.
2. You can have a Cervical Screening Test at any time
You can have a Cervical Screening Test at any stage in your menstrual cycle. However, most women find it more comfortable to schedule their appointment at a time they are not bleeding.
If you have gone through menopause, you can have a Cervical Screening Test at any time.
Wear a two-piece outfit to your appointment
Wearing a two-piece outfit (for example a skirt, or pants with a top) will make it easier to remove just your lower clothes while keeping your top on.
3. Insert the speculum yourself
You may be able to insert the speculum yourself —ask your doctor or nurse about this option. For some people, doing this first part of the procedure can help them relax and feel more in control of what is happening.
Once the speculum is in place, the doctor or nurse will then complete the test by opening up the speculum and collecting a sample to be sent for testing.
4. Take the sample yourself
Self-collection is an option for cervical screening where you collect your own vaginal sample using a swab.
If you're interested in self-collection, talk to your doctor or nurse to find out more.
Learn more about cervical screening self-collection >
5. Take a support person
You can take a friend, partner or family member into your appointment with you. Sometimes having someone there who you trust can help you feel less embarrassed and more at ease.
Let them know before your appointment how they can support you.
If you need additional assistance, see our information on cervical screening for people with specific needs.
6. Ask your doctor or nurse to use the language that you prefer for your body
There might be words you do not want to hear during your visit used to describe your anatomy. Tell your doctor what you prefer, write it down, or take a support person so they can help you if you need it.
You might prefer gender-neutral language or specific language that affirms your gender. You may be more comfortable with medical language. You have the right to ask for what you need.
Want more information?
Can We provides more information for the LGBTIQ+ community on cervical screening. Take a look at their guide on getting through your Cervical Screening Test.
7. If you feel uncomfortable ask if you can change position
Lying down on your back may make you feel uncomfortable, nervous or vulnerable. It is totally fine to ask if you can sit up a little, if that is more comfortable for you.
8. Get access to an interpreter
Interpreters are available to provide support for anyone who needs them during their appointment.
If you or someone you are caring for needs assistance from an interpreter, call the Translating and Interpreting Services (TIS) on 13 14 50. TIS offer a telephone interpreter service for people in need.
For more information, visit their website.
You can also let your doctor or nurse know in advance that you need an interpreter and ask them to organise one for you. The service is usually free for non-English speakers, but check with your doctor or nurse to make sure there is no cost to you.
Find more information for people with specific needs >
Is it time for your Cervical Screening Test?
Find a provider and book your appointment today