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The four reasons you might want to self-collect your next cervical screening test

From 1 July 2022, everyone in Australia who needs a cervical screening test (CST) will be able to collect their own sample using a simple vaginal swab.

This is amazing news as previously only certain groups of people were eligible to collect their own CSTs. The strict criteria meant that the option wasn’t widely understood or adopted, which didn’t help encourage many people to get screened.

The self-collected test is simple, quick and safe. It is also as accurate at detecting human papilloma virus (HPV) – which causes most cervical cancers – as the test performed by a doctor or nurse.

Four reasons to choose self-collection

Self-collection could be a great option if you:

  1. avoid doctor or nurse collected CSTs because you find them scary or embarrassing
  2. find the doctor or nurse collected CST physically uncomfortable or traumatic, perhaps because you are transgender or have experienced sexual assault
  3. have a history of normal CST results
  4. simply prefer the privacy of collecting their own sample.

How do I collect the test?

The self-collected test uses a specially designed swab that looks a bit like a cotton wool bud to collect cells from the vagina. The self-collection is normally performed in a clinic setting, behind a private screen or in the bathroom. But you can also take the swabs away and collect the sample in your own home.

There are four simple steps: your doctor or nurse will explain how to do the self-collected test at your appointment. It should take under a minute to collect the sample and be pain-free.

Self-collection is not recommended for anyone:

  • with symptoms such as abnormal bleeding, pain or discharge
  • with a history of abnormal cervical screening test results who are required to return for repeat tests (called Test of Cure surveillance)
  • who has been exposed to diethyl-stilbestrol (DES) in utero
  • who has had a total hysterectomy with past history of high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (HSIL)

How do I get a self-collected cervical screening test?

You will still need an appointment with a doctor or nurse who is trained to carry out cervical screening. Simply book a cervical screening test with Family Planning Tasmania and discuss self-collection with your doctor or nurse. We invite you to make an appointment with one of our friendly nurses or doctors in our clinics around Tasmania.