Who should have cervical screening

Women and people with a cervix between the age of 25 and 65 should go for regular cervical screening when it’s due.

If you are on the CervicalCheck register, you'll get a letter from us when your test is due. The letter will invite you to make an appointment with a registered GP, doctor or clinic.

You do not need to wait for a letter to book an appointment if:

  • you missed your last cervical screening test
  • your next test is due

You also do not need to be on our register to have a free screening test. If your test is due, you can book a test with a GP or nurse who is registered with CervicalCheck.

When you'll be invited for cervical screening

You'll be invited for cervical screening from age 25. 

You'll have your final cervical screening test between age 60 to 65.

You may need to attend screening tests more often, such as every 12 months. This depends on your age and your previous screening history. We will let you know if you need to attend more often.

Age 25 to 29

You are screened every 3 years.

You are screened more often than people over 30 because you are more likely to have HPV.

Age 30 to 65

You are screened every 5 years.

You'll have your final cervical screening test between age 60 to 65.

We increased the age range for screening from age 60 to age 65 on 30 March 2020.  

But if you were aged 56 to 60 by this date you:

  • have had your last screening test
  • are not on the active screening register
  • have not been invited for another screening test

If this changes, we will update you.

If you have never had a cervical screening test you can ask any registered sample taker for a free CervicalCheck test up to age 66.

Safe to wait 5 years between screening

It is safe to wait for 5 years between screening tests if you do not have a HPV infection because:

  • your risk of developing cell changes is very low
  • a test showing that you do not have a HPV infection is more reliable than a test finding normal cells

In most cases, it takes 10 to 15 years for a HPV infection to develop into cervical cancer.

Read more about HPV cervical screening and why you have screening less frequently.

If you had a recent smear test before HPV cervical screening came in

If your smear test results were normal, you will be invited for HPV cervical screening 3 or 5 years after your last smear test. This will depend on your age.

If your smear test results found low-grade abnormal cells, follow the advice you were given in your result letter.

If you have had a colposcopy or treatment during it, your colposcopist will tell you when to have a HPV cervical screening test.

A smear test is still a very effective way to prevent cervical cancer developing. It is how cervical screening was done before HPV cervical screening.

If you are not due a test but want to have one

If your test is not due, but you still want to have one, you will have to pay for it. This is a private screening test.

If you have a private screening test, we will not have access to your screening test result. It will not be part of the information we have about your screening history. The lab testing your private test sample will also not have access to your screening history.

Having an accurate record of your screening history helps us to make sure you get the best treatment or advice.

If you have a colposcopy as a private patient, we will not be able to access your results and recommendations. We can only access information for tests taken within the CervicalCheck screening programme.

If you have never had a cervical screening or smear test

If you've never had a screening test before, you can still have one with a registered GP, doctor or clinic. You just need to be aged 25 to 65.

If you are breastfeeding

You can still have a screening test if you are breastfeeding. Breastfeeding does not affect your test.

You may find having the test is a little uncomfortable. This is because breastfeeding can affect your hormone levels.

If you have recently had a baby, wait for at least 3 months after you've given birth to have your next test.

Read more about cervical screening and pregnancy

If you have had a hysterectomy

You may need to continue to have screening tests if:

  • you have had a subtotal hysterectomy (uterus removed) and still have a cervix
  • changes in the cells in your cervix were detected before surgery
  • there were cell changes on your cervix at the time of surgery
  • the hysterectomy was for treating cervical abnormalities (cancer or pre-cancerous conditions)
  • the histology of the cervix is unknown (histology is the study of the cells and tissue)

Talk to your GP. They will tell you if you need a screening test.

If you are unsure what type of hysterectomy you had, ask your GP.

CervicalCheck cannot tell you if you should have cervical screening after having a hysterectomy. We do not have access to your medical history.

Total hysterectomy

If you have had a total hysterectomy, your GP will be able to tell you if you should continue to have screening tests. A total hysterectomy is when the uterus and cervix are removed

If the test before your hysterectomy found abnormalities, have a repeat test. The test will take a sample from the top of your vagina. This is called a vault smear.

Trans men and cervical screening

If you have had a total hysterectomy to remove your cervix, you might still need to have cervical screening tests.

This may be because abnormal cells were found in your cervix before or at the time of your hysterectomy. Talk to your GP. They will tell you if you should continue to have screening tests.

If you are aged 25 to 65 and still have a cervix, you should attend cervical screening.

When trans men with a cervix will be invited for cervical screening

If you're aged 25 to 65 and registered with welfare services as female, you should receive invitation letters for cervical screening.

If you're registered with welfare services as male, you will not receive invitation letters.

You can still have cervical screening. Talk to your GP.

Contact us to make sure we have your correct details.

Read about trans women and cervical screening

If you have HIV

If you have HIV, you will be invited for cervical screening every 12 months regardless of what age you are.

You should have a cervical screening test within a year of your HIV diagnosis.

If you are having an organ transplant

You should have a screening test within the 12 months before your transplant.

After your transplant, you will have screening tests every 3 or 5 years, depending on your age.

If you have kidney failure

You should have a cervical screening test shortly after a diagnosis for kidney failure.

Page last reviewed: 30 December 2019
Next review due: 30 December 2022