Painful smears - told to come back after having sex, is this true?

Hi there,

I've attempted smears twice over the past 5 years (Had been sent a letter when I was 20 to go for one) but the pain was just too much

The 2nd time I went was last year when I felt I maybe have gotten better but it was same again and in tears, all the nurse said to me was "once you've had penetrative sex come back, because you're not sexually active you're not in as big of risk". Is this true?

I can't have penetrative sex as I have no male partner, and don't plan to have one in future so i'm very stuck on this.

I am in a constant state of anxiety over these smears because its constantly on the news and people always say "oh its not painful get over it," and just sends me into a right state of panic.

I have wanted to go elsewhere because the response and treatment I got at GP was really unhelpful but all the sexual health clinics near me have stopped their smear tests.

I have asked on several online chats and phone calls which leave me in verge of tears regarding help with the pain and i'm just referred to links that really mean nothing.

I'm going to try booking an appointment tomorrow to try again with my GP because it's terrifying to think i'm in a constant state of maybe dying because of this sex comment. If theres anyway I can make this situation better I am desperate to know. I heard painkillers can help so i'm gonna try that but I want to know if that sex comment is really common.


Hi Poe, 

I'm so sorry to read of your experiences trying to have a smear test.

Firsly, many people do find smear tests painful and struggle having the test. You aren't alone at all. 

Secondly, everyone between the age of 25 to 64 is eligable for a smear test in the UK. Smear tests are looking for cell changes (abnormalities) caused by persistant HPV. HPV is a really common virus that 80% of us will get at some point in our lives. HPV is spread through skin to skin contact in the genital area. This include genital touching, oral sex, sharing sex toys, and penetritive sex. 

We have a blog that I think you might find useful, Let's Talk about it...sometimes smear tests are painful ( You might also benefit from our FAQs on smear tests ( 

Please also feel free to call out helpline (0808 802 8000) and our trained helpliners can talk to you about ways to make the experience less painful and help you feel in control as this is your test. 

My best wishes,


hi poe  first i would recomend geting some diliators (bit like dildoes) from your GP you start of small and work your way up to biger ones you usaly do this after a warm bath if you are not sexualy active in anyway you are low risck only 3 people a year for the whole of the uk get none HPV cervical cancer. the telling women to suck it up atidude pi*$*s  me off to pain killer wize (do not let them fob you off with ibrprophine/parasetmol)there is mefenamic acid or diclofenac and for anxiety diazeapam i have hered of some women useing Gas and air as it powerfull but sort term. and take some one with you (dont let them stick them on a cair behind the screens they can stay with you all the way if you want them to)and  they can be the bad guy with the gp/nurse if they say you shouldnt need gas and air  for a smaer they can say make a fuss to make sure your treated right if you stll have problems type in PAL in to google and your local reprasetaive

Thanks for the tips, my appointment is in 2 weeks time so i'm trying some stretching each day which should hopefully help with taking the clip thing (At least build up my tolerance to the pain long enough to complete the ordeal cry), I take codis for period pain and plan to take a couple prior to the appointment.

I'm a bit concerned over HPV as my parents opted me out of the HPV vaccinations that were started in schools a decade ago (Think its too late for me to receive these now) so wanna make sure I can cover my bases as best as I can.

you can get the vacsine up to the age of 45 but you might have to pay(go private)