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When cervical screening is not recommended

In some cases, you do not need to have a cervical screening 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

If you're under 25 and worried about your risk of developing cervical cancer, talk to your GP.

Talk to your GP if you're concerned about other areas of your sexual health.

If you have symptoms of cervical cancer

Talk to your GP straight away if you're worried about symptoms of cervical cancer.

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

The most common symptom of cervical cancer is abnormal bleeding. Abnormal bleeding can include:

  • irregular vaginal bleeding
  • bleeding between periods
  • vaginal spotting or discharge
  • post-menopausal bleeding
  • bleeding after sex

Less common symptoms can include:

  • a pain in your pelvis (anywhere between your bellybutton and the tops of your thighs)
  • pain during sex

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 once you are over the age of 65.

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

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.

Call us on Freephone 1800 45 45 55 to reschedule your test.

Read more about cervical screening and pregnancy.

If you have had a miscarriage

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

Talk to your GP or clinic to reschedule your screening test.

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 should let us know your correct details. This is so that we can update our records so we don't contact you unnecessarily.

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.

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 have recently had radiotherapy for:

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

page last reviewed: 30/12/2019
next review due: 30/12/2022