Cervical Screening Programme
Department of Health
The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

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Timing of Smear Taking


Timing for taking a good cervical smear

  • Cervical smear should be avoided during menstruation because blood stained smears may be difficult to interpret.
  • Smear should be taken despite bleeding if local cervical lesion is seen or the woman has abnormal vaginal bleeding that needs investigation.
  • If there are signs of infection or atrophy, they should be treated before having cervical cancer screening. If problems with compliance or return for testing are anticipated, a cervical cancer screening test should be done at the first visit.
  • Postmenopausal women with clinical evidence of cervical or vaginal atrophy may be given a 7-day course of topical estrogen and stopped 2 days before taking cervical cancer screening test as it is difficult to interpret smears with atrophic cellular changes.

Notes to clients on booking appointment

  • Avoid vaginal douching, sexual intercourse and use of vaginal medicines for 48 hours before taking the smear as these may wash away or conceal abnormal cells.
  • Remind the clients of the optimal timing for a good cervical smear.
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