Why Cervical Screenings Are So Important

Womens Health and Contraception

Cervical screenings, also known in Ireland as smear tests, are important medical tests designed to assess the health of the cervix. Regular cervical screening can help detect abnormal cells in the cervix before they become cancerous.

As an approved CervicalCheck GP Clinic, Roxboro Medical Centre provides free Cervical Screening in Limerick. CervicalCheck is a nationwide scheme that was set up by the Irish government in an effort to mitigate cervical cancer.

Check if you are due a cervical screening here before booking a cervical screening in our Limerick clinic.


Why Are Cervical Screenings Important?

Cervical screenings are important as the detection of abnormal cells in the cervix can allow for early treatment. Early detection and early treatment are both helpful for assisting in the prevention of the development of cervical cancer.

Regular cervical screenings also provide an opportunity for your GP or Nurse to check for other issues. Issues such as infections or inflammation could affect a woman’s reproductive health but can be caught early with cervical screenings.

Nearly 300 women in Ireland are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year. By making cervical screenings free and easier to book, the Irish government hopes to reduce this number radically.

At Roxboro, we believe the importance of these cervical screenings can not be overstated. That is why we have been providing cervical screening in Limerick for a number of years.


Who Should Get A Cervical Screening?

It is recommended that women begin cervical screenings at age 21-25, regardless of their sexual activity or vaccination status. Women between the ages of 21 and 29 should have a cervical screening test every three years.

Women who have undergone a hysterectomy, which involves the removal of the cervix, do not need to have cervical screenings. The only exception here is if the hysterectomy was performed due to cervical cancer or precancerous cells. In this case, it is advised to continue with testing as per your Doctor’s advice.

If you are unsure about whether you should get a cervical screening, our Limerick clinic team can advise.


How Is A Cervical Screening Performed?

During a cervical screening, the nurse or doctor will use a small, long, brush-like instrument to collect cells from the cervix. These cells are then sent to a laboratory to be examined for any abnormalities.  Cervical screenings usually take no more than 10 minutes and are typically pain free. Though you may experience some discomfort.

To retrieve the sample of cells from the cervix, the nurse will first insert a speculum into the patient’s vagina. This is a plastic (sometimes metal) instrument which helps to open the entrance to the cervix. The brush-like instrument is then inserted through the speculum to gently sweep up a cell sample.

At Roxboro Medical, it is normally our experienced nurses who perform cervical screenings in our Limerick centre.


What Happens After Cervical Screening

Following your cervical screening, it will take around four weeks for your results to be returned. A letter will be sent to your home and to your doctor for your record. If you have not received your result after four weeks, get in touch with your doctor. Please note that delayed results are not a sign of bad news.

As explained on the HSE website, each cervical screening letter states one of the following:


  • HPV not found
  • HPV found and no abnormal cell changes found
  • HPV found and abnormal cell changes found
  • inadequate or unsatisfactory sample


Cervical Screening Results Explained

If HPV is not found, you will be contacted when your next cervical screening is due.

If HPV is found and there are no abnormal cell changes, you will have another cervical screening after 12 months. This result means that HPV cells are present but are not changing cells in your cervix. This result does not mean that you have cancer.

If HPV is found and abnormal cell changes are also found, you will be referred for a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy takes a closer look at your cervix. Following this test, the colonoscopist will decide if the HPV cells should be removed or not.

If your letter states that the test was inadequate or an unsatisfactory sample was taken, you will require a repeat test.


Do Cervical Screenings In Ireland Test For HPV?

Yes, since 2020 all cervical screenings in Ireland test for HPV. HPV (Human Papillomaviridae) is a type of virus that creates high risk cells that can become cancerous.


The Difference Between Cervical Screenings And Smear Tests

Prior to the 2020 introduction of cervical screenings in Ireland, a similar test called a Smear Test was used. Though the test procedure for cervical screening and smear tests are very similar, the two tests are different.

The new cervical screening specifically tests for HPV cells, whereas smear tests looked for abnormal cells. Detecting HPV cells is a more efficient way to detect the risk of cervical cancer in a patient.


How Often Should I Get A Cervical Screening?

It is recommended that women begin cervical screenings at age 21 and continue every three years. This can vary depending on individual risk factors and medical history.

Women between the ages of 30 and 65 should have a cervical screening test every five years or a cervical screening test combined with an HPV test every five years.

Women with a history of cervical cancer or precancerous cells may need to have more frequent screenings, as determined by their healthcare provider. Additionally, women who have symptoms such as vaginal bleeding, pain during sex, or abnormal discharge should seek medical attention and may need to have a cervical screening.

To book a cervical screening in Limerick, book an appointment with us online.


About Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the cells of the cervix. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. It is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a sexually transmitted infection. HPV is very common, and most women who are infected with the virus do not develop cervical cancer. However, in some cases, the virus can cause changes in the cells of the cervix that can lead to cancer if left untreated.

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women worldwide. It is responsible for over 300,000 deaths each year.


Symptoms Of Cervical Cancer

One of the reasons that smear tests and cervical screenings were introduced is that cervical cancer can be hard to detect. Cervical cancer can take years (10 – 15) to develop and with little or no obvious symptoms.

Some symptoms that could indicate cervical cancer include spotting between periods and pain or bleeding during or after sex.

If you are ever concerned about cervical cancer or any other health matters, contact us at Roxboro to book an appointment.


What is CervicalCheck

CervicalCheck is an Irish health programme that automatically registers women in Ireland aged 25-65 who have a PPS card. Anyone who visits a GP for cervical screening will also be registered. The purpose of CervicalCheck is to encourage and remind women in Ireland to attend cervical screenings.

Overall, it is important for women to discuss their individual risk factors and medical history with their healthcare provider. Talking to your doctor will help to determine the appropriate screening schedule for your needs.

If you are looking to book a cervical screening in Limerick, contact us at Roxboro Medical Centre. Get in touch to register with Roxboro Medical Centre Limerick at 061 312 291 or email us at info@roxboromedical.ie.