Self-collection Cervical Screen Test

The main points

  • Self-collected Cervical Screening Tests (CST) are universally available to all women and people with a cervix who are asymptomatic and eligible for cervical screening.
  • The cervical screening test looks for the presence of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which can cause changes to the cells in the cervix. In some people, if this is left undiagnosed and untreated it can develop into cervical cancer.
  • The CST is simple and easy to do and is of similar accuracy as a clinician-taken test.
  • The CST can be taken in private at the clinic or it can be taken home to do.

What is the difference between a self-collected and clinician-collected sample?

A key difference between self-collected and clinician-collected CST is the type of sample that is collected. The self-collected sample is taken from the vagina using a swab and can be done in private or with help from a health professional. If HPV is detected on the sample the person will be required to attend a follow-up appointment for further investigation with a health professional.

If the person opts for a clinician-taken test, it is collected from the cervix and requires a speculum examination.

How to take a self-collection CST?

  1. Your health care professional will provide you with the swab.
  2. They will show you about how far to insert the swab, such as a red line or marker. The sample is taken from the middle to lower part of the vagina, it does not need to reach the cervix.
  3. Insert the swab into your vagina (like inserting a tampon)
  4. Gently rotate the swab in the vagina for 10-30 seconds, then place it back into the tube provided
  5. Hand the swab back to the health practitioner.

Easy, right!? The test is simple and should be pain-free.

Women and people with a cervix who are due or overdue for their CST are encouraged to talk about their testing options with their healthcare professional. SHV has two clinics that both offer cervical screening services in a supportive and inclusive environment.