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Stay at home – level 5 restrictions are in place nationwide. Get the latest advice about COVID-19

Cervical screening during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic

Cervical screening has restarted. Find out when your next cervical screening test is due. GP practices and screening clinics may have to cancel routine screening appointments during January due to the third wave of COVID-19. Your may have to wait a few weeks for your rescheduled appointment. Please keep in contact with your GP or clinic and rebook as soon as you can.

Book your cervical screening appointment

Book your cervical screening appointment if your test is due. You do not need to wait to get an invitation letter to book your test.

If you do get an invitation letter, book your appointment as soon as you can.

Read more about how to book a cervical screening test

If you are worried about symptoms that might mean you have cervical cancer, phone your GP. Never ignore symptoms.

HPV Cervical Screening

Cervical screening now looks to see if you have any of the high-risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that cause cervical cancer. This is a new way of cervical screening.

The old smear test looked for abnormal cells first. But finding HPV first is a better way to screen for cervical cancer.

If HPV is found, your same test sample will be checked to see if you have any abnormal (pre-cancerous) cells in your cervix.

If we find a HPV infection early, we can monitor it and offer you treatment if there are any changes to cells in your cervix.

Read more about HPV cervical screening and how it compares with the old smear test.

Going for your screening test

The way your cervical screening sample is taken will be the same. But your GP surgery or clinic may be a little different when you go for your appointment.

Change you may notice include:

  • talking with your doctor on the phone before your appointment
  • your nurse or doctor wearing personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • being asked to wear a mask during your appointment
  • being asked to wait outside until it’s time for your appointment
  • fewer people in your healthcare building
  • waiting a little longer for your appointment

Because of this, you should:

  • try to organise childcare, where needed, ahead of your appointment
  • plan to wait a little longer at the surgery for your test, if needed
  • check transport timetables for your return home
  • bring warm clothes or a rain jacket, or both
  • make sure you have enough time for parking if driving
  • bring your own pen to sign the screening form
  • keep in touch with your surgery and follow their advice

Aged 25 to 30 and having your first test

If you 25 to 30 years of age and having a test for the first time, check the CervicalCheck register to make sure we have all the details we need to invite you for screening.

Follow up treatment

If you need follow-up treatment, colposcopy clinics are being held.

It may seem a little different when you go to the clinic for your next colposcopy appointment.

Change you may notice include:

  • your nurse or doctor wearing some personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • being asked to wait outside until it’s time for your appointment
  • fewer people in your healthcare building
  • having to wait a little longer for your appointment

Your hospital clinic will be in touch with you ahead of your appointment. They will let you know what to expect when coming to the colposcopy clinic.

When you should reschedule an appointment

Phone your GP surgery, screening clinic or colposcopy clinic to reschedule your appointment if you:

  • have symptoms of COVID-19
  • have tested positive for COVID-19
  • are self-isolating because you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
  • need to postpone your appointment

Never ignore symptoms

Symptoms of cervical cancer to look out for include:

  • bleeding between periods
  • vaginal spotting or unusual discharge
  • pain during sex
  • bleeding after sex
  • pain in your pelvis - anywhere between your belly button and the top of your thighs

If you are worried about symptoms that might mean you have cervical cancer, phone your GP. Never ignore symptoms.

page last reviewed: 27/03/2020
next review due: 27/03/2023