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When cervical screening is not recommended

In some cases, you do not need to have a cervical screening test (smear test) or you may be advised to delay it.

If you are under 25

You will not be invited for cervical screening until you're 25 because:

  • cervical cancer is very rare in people under 25
  • it might lead to having treatment you do not need - abnormal cell changes often go back to normal in younger people

Talk to your GP if you're worried about your risk of developing cervical cancer. Talk to them if you're concerned about other areas of your sexual health.

If you have symptoms of cervical cancer

Urgent advice: Contact your GP straight away if:

you have symptoms of cervical cancer such as abnormal bleeding and pain in your pelvis.

Do not wait for your next cervical screening appointment. Even if you have had a recent normal screening result, never ignore symptoms.

These symptoms are usually caused by other conditions. They do not always mean you have cervical cancer. But you should contact your GP to get them checked.

If you are due to have a cervical screening test, your GP may advise you not to have the test. They will instead refer you for a colposcopy.

If you're over 65

You'll usually stop being invited for screening when you are over the age of 65.

This is because it's very unlikely that you'll get cervical cancer.

But you can ask your GP for a free screening test if you're over age 65 and have never been for cervical screening.

Final screening tests

If you are pregnant

A screening test is not usually recommended until 3 months after the birth. This is because pregnancy can make it harder to get clear results.

Cervical screening and pregnancy

If you had a miscarriage

If you have recently had a miscarriage and are due your screening test, delay booking it for 3 months. This is to get the best cell samples. 

If you are a trans woman

If you’re a trans woman aged 25 to 65, you may be invited to attend cervical screening.

But as you do not have a cervix, you do not need to be screened.

You or your GP can contact us with your correct details. This is so that we do not contact you about cervical screening tests.

Trans men and cervical screening

If you have never had sexual activity

If you have never had sex or sexual contact, your risk of developing cervical cancer is very low.

You do not have to book a screening test when you get an invite from us. But you should talk to your GP before you opt out of cervical screening.

If you do become sexually active, you should begin having screening tests.

Sexual contact includes:

  • any skin-to-skin contact of the genital area
  • vaginal, oral or anal sex
  • sharing sex toys

If you were born without a cervix

You do not need to have cervical screening if you are a woman born without a cervix.

If you have had treatment for cancer

You do not need to have cervical screening if you had radiotherapy for:

  • cervical cancer
  • bladder cancer
  • rectal cancer
  • other pelvic cancers

If you have had a hysterectomy

Page last reviewed: 19 December 2022
Next review due: 19 December 2025