Freephone information line: 1800 45 45 55

How to have a smear test

  1. Smear test result delays
  2. Women who have never had a smear test
  3. Women who have had one or more smear tests
  4. Where to have a smear test
  5. Concerns or difficulties in arranging a smear test appointment
  6. The best time to have a smear test
  7. Attending a GP practice or a clinic for the smear test
  8. Getting the smear test result

Smear test result delays

Due to increased demand for repeat cervical screening tests (smear tests), there is a delay in providing results of all smear tests. This is for both repeat smear tests and routine tests.

In the past, you would get your smear test result within 4-6 weeks of your test. Currently, results may take up to 12 weeks. We are sorry for this delay and are working to reduce these waiting times.

You may get a reminder letter for your next smear test before your results letter arrives. You should wait for your results letter.

You should also check our online register. Make sure your contact details are up-to-date. You should also check we have the right address for you.

Smear tests are not diagnostic. So if you are experiencing any symptoms, you should consult your GP without delay. Symptoms may include unexplained vaginal bleeding, bleeding after sex, unusual discharge or pelvic pain.

Women who have never had a smear test

CervicalCheck sends an invitation by letter to women on the register who have never had a free CervicalCheck smear test. Women may register or check if they are registered if they do not receive a letter of invitation.

Women aged 25 to 60 years of age who have never had a CervicalCheck smear test may simply make an appointment with a registered GP practice or clinic, even if they have not received a letter of invitation.

A letter of invitation is not needed to make an appointment and attend for a smear test for a woman to have her first CervicalCheck smear test.

To choose a smeartaker (doctor or nurse) and make an appointment for a smear test: Where can I have a test?

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Women who have had smear tests

The letter from CervicalCheck following the last smear test will indicate when a woman should return for her next smear test. If the interval is 12 months, 3 years or 5 years, CervicalCheck will send a reminder letter to the woman before the next smear test due date.

If a woman does not have the letter or is unsure about the date, she can check when her next smear test is due. When is my next smear test?

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Where to have a smear test

Free smear tests are provided by doctors and nurses registered with CervicalCheck. There are over 4,500 doctors and nurses registered in GP practices, women's health and family planning clinics nationwide. In many GP practices and clinics, women have the choice of attending a doctor or practice nurse for their free smear test. In addition, many can offer a choice between a female or male smeartaker.

To identify a GP practice or clinic to make an appointment, a woman can use Where can I have a test? or can contact the CervicalCheck Freephone 1800 45 45 55.

Private gynaecologists are not registered with CervicalCheck.

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Concerns or difficulties in arranging a smear test appointment

The Information resources section contains a variety of information available in different formats designed to answer questions about cervical screening, consent and having a smear test. There is information available in several languages and in pictorial and audio formats (podcasts). Certain letters and information leaflets can be made available in Braille.

The CervicalCheck Access Officer can advise and provide supporting information on the need for cervical screening. When appropriate, the Access Officer can support women in accessing cervical screening.

Access Officer:              telephone 061 406560               email


Specific points that may help include:

  • A woman has a choice of doctor or nurse to take her smear test. Where can I have a test?
  • A woman can choose to have a chaperone accompany her for her smear test.
  • A woman can choose to defer her smear test to a more suitable time.
  • A substantial number of registered GP practices and clinics are wheelchair accessible. These can be identified using Where can I have a test?
  • Visually impaired women can be notified by a telephone call instead of a letter when their smear test is due (available on request).
  • Group appointments for women who wish to attend as a group may be possible to arrange (on request).


Listen to the experiences shared by women who have had a smear test: Women’s voices

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The best time to have a smear test

It is best to have a smear test when you are not having your period.  If a woman is not having periods or is menopausal, she can attend for her smear test at any time as long as there is no bleeding.

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Attending a GP practice or a clinic for the smear test

To read or listen to information about a smear test, see About your free cervical screening test in the Information Resources section.

In advance of attending for an appointment, a woman may wish to read the Information Sheet before providing her informed consent at the time of the smear test. See Information Sheets (in several languages) in the Information resources section.

It is useful if a woman has her Personal Public Service Number (PPS No.) available when attending for her smear test. This helps CervicalCheck to correctly and uniquely identify the woman and keep her record on the register up to date.

A woman should verify that her name, address and other details recorded on the Cervical Cytology Form by the doctor or nurse at the time of her smear test are correct. These details will update her record on the Cervical Screening Register, and ensure that the letter sent by CervicalCheck when her result is available goes to the correct address.

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Getting the smear test result

The doctor will be sent the clinical result from the laboratory. The result is accompanied by a recommendation for the next step.

The laboratory may also test the smear test sample for certain types of HPV infection. This will help to determine the recommendation for what needs to be done next.

CervicalCheck will send a letter to the woman advising her that her smear test result is available from her smeartaker (doctor or nurse) and recommending her next step within the screening programme.

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Is cuid den tSeirbhís Náisiúnta Scagthástála é CervicalCheck
Bosca Oifig Phoist 161, Luimneach
Saorghlao 1800 45 45 55
CervicalCheck is part of the National Cancer Screening Service
PO Box 161 Limerick
Freephone 1800 45 45 55

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Is cuid den Rannóg Sláinte agus Folláine i bhFeidhmeannacht na Seirbhíse Sláinte í an tSeirbhís Náisiúnta Scagthástála. Cuimsíonn sí BreastCheck – An Clár Náisiúnta Scagthástála Cíoch, CervicalCheck – An Clár Náisiúnta Scagthástála Ceirbheacs, BowelScreen – An Clár Náisiúnta Scagthástála Putóige agus Diabetic RetinaScreen – An Clár Náisiúnta Scagthástála Reitiní do Dhiaibéitigh.

The National Screening Service is part of the Health and Wellbeing Division of the Health Service Executive. It encompasses BreastCheck – The National Breast Screening Programme, CervicalCheck – The National Cervical Screening Programme, BowelScreen – The National Bowel Screening Programme and Diabetic RetinaScreen – The National Diabetic Retinal Screening Programme.