When you turn 25 in Ireland, you will receive a letter from CervicalCheck asking you to attend your first free screening as soon as possible. The idea of going for your first screening may seem a little scary, but it is a simple check which takes less than 5 minutes and is available to every woman over 25 in Ireland.
Going for a screening is also known as getting a smear test.
CervicalCheck is Ireland’s National Cervical Screening Programme. The programme provides all women with free cervical screening tests from a registered GP, nurse or family planning clinic of their choice. Women aged 25-44 can avail of a free screening every three years, while women aged 44 to 60 can avail of a free screening every five years.
Cervical cancer is a cancer which develops in a woman’s cervix (the neck of the womb). Around 99% of cervical cancers are caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which is a common infection usually spread by skin-to-skin contact during sex.
In Ireland, roughly 300 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year and up to 90 women die from the disease. Cervical cancer is the second most common cause of cancer related death in women aged 25 to 39 years.
While the HPV vaccine is the most effective way to prevent cervical cancer, regular cervical screening is the most effective way to detect any changes in the cells of the cervix before they turn into cancerous cells.
Who needs to get checked?
All sexually active women, and trans men who have a cervix, aged between 25 and 60 need to go for a cervical screening, regardless of ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, or marital status.
Based on evidence to date, there is no additional public health benefit in starting cervical screening below the age of 25. If you are under the age of 25 and have symptoms or are concerned about about cervical cancer you should speak to your nurse or doctor about it.
Symptoms of cervical cancer can include:
- Blood spots in between periods or bleeding after sex
- Blood-stained vaginal discharge
- Pain or discomfort in your pelvis
For more information on cervical cancer, visit cancer.ie.
If you are over 25 you can book your first cervical screening with any doctor or nurse registered with CervicalCheck. You can find a list of over 4,500 registered CervicalCheck providers here.
If you have already had your first check-up and want to see when your next screening is due you can find this out at cervicalcheck.ie or by calling CervicalCheck on freephone 1800 45 45 55.
Giving consent to be checked
You must give your consent to take part in the CervicalCheck programme.
Consent is needed to show that you understand the benefits and limitations of the screening and to allow CervicalCheck to take, store and share your personal details and screening history with those who deliver the screening programme.
To give consent you will be asked at your screening to sign a Cervical Screening Form.