Self collection - a cervical screening game changer for women after menopause

Did you stop having regular cervical screening when you went through menopause? Maybe it’s because you found the test painful in the past, or you found the process uncomfortable or embarrassing.  Maybe you thought you didn’t need to test anymore because you stopped being sexually active or only had one partner.  Maybe you didn’t intentionally stop, you just got busy enjoying life.

A big change to cervical screening commenced in July 2022. A self-collection option is now available to everyone who is due for their cervical screening test.  Self-collection involves inserting a long-handled cotton bud a few centimetres into your vagina.  You do not need to insert a speculum or “find” your cervix.  You can do it yourself, in private or have your GP or nurse collect the sample.  If you prefer to have a speculum examination that option is still available too.

Cervical screening is now recommended every five years (it used to be two), and the name changed from “pap test” to “cervical screening test”.  Most people doing the test will receive the “all clear” and get on with enjoying life.  But if there’s a problem, it’s better to find it early when treatment options are less invasive.  Very few cancers can be detected early, but cervical changes can be monitored well before they develop into cervical cancer.

In fact, over 70% of cervical cancers can be prevented by regular cervical screening.

Regardless of your situation, it’s important for anyone with a cervix aged 25-74 to have regular screening tests to protect yourself from cervical cancer.

If you would like to do your cervical screening test using self-collection, you should check that self-collection is available at your usual clinic before booking, or you can visit to find a clinic that has advised Wellbeing SA that they are offering self-collection.

Please ensure you check with your GP before booking, to ensure they have the required supplies on hand.

If you are not sure when you had your last cervical screening test, visit the National Cancer Screening Register website and search via the Participant Portal, or call 1800 627 701.

Share this article