For information about contraception, pregnancy options and sexual health in Victoria

5 Cervical Screening Myths

on 15 Feb 2024 8:04 AM
Photo of a uterus diagram, speculum, vaginal swabs and a menstrual cup on a blue background


Whilst most people with a cervix are generally familiar with cervical screening, confusion about the difference between Pap smears and Cervical Screening tests is still quite common. Some myths about cervical screening also continue to persist which we know can dissuade people from having regular testing.

So, let’s take a look at some of these myths:

Cervical screening can be performed at any time, including during pregnancy or at any time during your menstrual cycle.

It is perfectly safe to have a CST while you are pregnant.

While a CST isn’t typically painful, some people can experience some discomfort from the use of the speculum.

If you’re concerned about your CST being painful, you can now ask your doctor for self-collection which does not require the use of a speculum.

CSTs are recommended every 5 years from the age of 25 -74, unless your doctor advises otherwise. The risk of getting cervical cancer is the same even after menopause, so it is important to keep having CSTS every 5 years.

While both tests involve taking a sample from your cervix or vagina, they actually test for two different things.

A Pap smear looks for early signs of cervical cancer, while the new CST tests for HPV - human papillomavirus - the major cause of cervical cancer.

There are many strains of HPV. While the HPV vaccine prevents over 95% of cancer-causing HPV strains, it does not prevent all HPV strains. So even with the vaccine, it is important to get screened every 5 years.


Now we’ve got that that’s sorted, if you’re aged between 25-74, have a cervix, are sexually active and it’s been 5 years since your last CST (or pap smear) - make a booking for a CST today!

You should have the test every 5 years if you are aged 25 to 74 years old, have a cervix and have ever been sexually active. 

If you need help finding a GP or sexual health clinic that can organise a CST for you, contact us on webchat or 1800 696 784 (weekdays, 9am - 5pm).