Insufficient smear

Hi everyone

Ive posted on here a couple of times and felt very supported. I am 46 and all smears were normal until last year when i discovered i was HPV+ and after biopsy discovered CIN1.

I had my yearly follow up smear on 2nd March this year.

My result has come back as an insufficient sample (or words to that effect, i still haven’t received my letter - i called the surgery to see if they had my results) and ive been asked to go back for another test. Ive booked in for tomorrow for another test and i will talk to the nurse but i have to say the nurse is very stern and negative and i find her hard to talk to.

This has sent me into such a spin. I admit ive not coped well since i found out i had HPV (huge shock!) and CIN1. I live with anxiety and anything to do with cancer is a huge trigger for me. I feel like a year is a long time to wait to see if things have changed and then i discover this smear wasnt sufficient and i habe to go through all of this waiting all over again. I feel like a ticking timebomb. And i do underdtand that women are facing much more serious diagnoses than i am, and im truly sorry if im coming across as weak :pensive:

My question is, has anyone else had an inconclusive result? Does this mean they found HPV but cant see the stage of cells?

I had a coil in at the time my smear test was taken and i bled for most of the 6 months i had it (but barely any bleeding on day of smear). I was told i had an erosion on my cervix at the time of the smear but when i had my coil removed a few weeks ago the doc said she couldnt see the erosion.

I think im looking for any information before i fall down the rabbit hole of Dr Google and give myself a sleepless night.

If youve made it this far, i thank you hugely. Im aware i can ramble, imnjust very worried and so tired of worrying.


J x

Hi MrsB1997,

I havnt had an insufficient sample before but I do know how you feel when it comes to CIN1, my second ever smear sent me for an investigation and CIN1 was found naturally I was sent into a spin! Usually an insufficient sample means they havnt had enough of the sample to test… which could be why you havnt received a letter as they don’t actually have an answer to either HPV or the cells and want you back in x also could be why you didn’t bleed when the sample was taken, although not all do x

it’s worth remembering that although CIN is a precursor it doesn’t always mean that because you have CIN you will go on to get CC and CIN1 is the least likely that’s why they have the process they do, to put it into perspective around 60% CIN1 cases go away on their own, 29% stay the same, 10% progress to a higher grade of CIN and generally less than 1% go on to be cancer if left unmonitored and didn’t treated if it’s deemed necessary x

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Hi MrsB,

I think the simple answer is that insufficient means there are not enough clear cells to make a diagnosis/come to a conclusion - probably because the sample was contaminated in some way (fungus infection, blood, douche, cream etc) or there were not enough cells because the health care person didn’t get enough. It happens, and it’s happened to many women and is a known issue which wastes a lot of money for the NHS along with worrying too many women. Don’t give it a chance to worry you and go back for your retest. Let’s hope they’re careful to get a good sample this time - I’m sure they will! X


Thank you @Jacks133 and @icedblue for responding to me, just talking it over with people who understand and who can relate makes a huge difference.

Since having the coil removed 3 weeks ago, its made a huge difference and i havent bled since. I only bled when i had the coil so hopefully the bleeding was a symptom of that only.

My Dr said the results said to come back in 3 months to have a repeat smear. I asked her if that meant i should go within 3 months or in 3 months time,she wasnt sure so she told me to book one, which is tomorrow. Thatll only be 8 weeks differenceso i think ill have to check with the scary nurse beforehand. Aww if you dont laugh eh?!

Jo x

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