Since the widespread introduction of cervical cancer screening programs the incidence and mortality of cervical cancer has declined. In general, cervical cancer screening programs are viewed as a valuable component of preventive health services, but are also associated with negative effects for participants. The side effects of cervical cancer screening include anxiety, false reassurance and overdiagnosis. The purpose of the present review was to study the research literature on psychological adjustment among women undergoing cervical cancer screening. The review revealed two main areas with barriers to cervical cancer screening, the pelvic examination and Pap smear results. Women felt anxiety and embarrassment during the pelvic examination and highlighted the importance of a suitable examiner. Fear of negative results played a major role in women's decisions to participate. Fearing results of the Pap smear could be a source of distress.