If you're sitting there wondering, "Do I need a smear test?", “Have I been putting it off for too long?” the answer is yes! Cervical cancer is the most common and preventable form of cancer when caught early. HPV is a virus that can be found in about 80% of women at some point in their lifetime  this can be diagnosed during your smear test and it is important you and your GP are aware of this virus and should be monitored.
We understand it’s never easy to talk about private health issues. And for many women, the idea of having a cervical smear test can be nerve-racking and uncomfortable. But the fact is, cervical cancer can be prevented by getting a smear test regularly.
Every year, 3,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with cervical cancer – a disease that could easily have been prevented if they had attended their regular smear test. It’s so important to do your regular checks, and be aware of the signs that something may be wrong.
What Is it:
A smear test is a testing method used to screen for abnormal cells in the cervix. Abnormal cells found during a smear test can indicate issues such as cervical cancer. A smear test is also known as a Pap smear or a Pap test. It's named after the doctor who invented it, George Papanicolaou. The first time he performed the test was on his own wife in 1928.
1.It’s quick and simple:
A smear test takes about five minutes, and it can be carried out by a doctor or nurse.
2. It’s free:
A smear test is free for everyone in Ireland aged between 25 and 60, under the CervicalCheck screening programme. Women between the ages of 21 and 65 are generally recommended to have Pap testing every three years  and it is important that these are not missed as cells can change regularly.
3.Smear tests save lives:
If you have an abnormal smear test result, it means that you are at an increased risk of developing cervical cancer in the future. Abnormal cells can be treated to prevent cervical cancer from developing.
4. The earlier you get tested, the better chance you have of avoiding cervical cancer:
The earlier you detect a problem, the easier it is to treat it. If your smear test shows no abnormalities, there is no need for treatment and your next routine smear test will be in three years’ time.
No woman aged 25 to 60 should feel embarrassed or ashamed to get a smear test. In fact, it’s the most important thing you do for your health right now.
Here are a few top tips to get you ready for your appointment:
Book your cervical screening appointment for the middle of your cycle so you're not on your period. This just makes it easier for the doctor to assess your cells.
Wear something comfortable. A skirt is useful so you don't have to take everything off from the waist down.
Don't use any creams, medication or lubricants in your vagina before your smear.
Ask for a female nurse if it makes you feel more comfortable.
Stay calm, even if you're feeling tense, relax. If your muscles are relaxed it will make it easier for the nurse to collect cell samples from your cervix. Try some deep breathing to help with any nerves you may have.
Go and book one – you don’t have to worry about it at all! Remember this is done by professionals who do this every day, take control of your health today.