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.
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
25 to 29 years old – every 3 years
30 to 65 years old – every 5 years
You may need to attend screening tests more often, such as every 12 months. This is only if you need extra monitoring. We will send you a letter to let you know if you need to attend more often.
People aged 25 to 29 are screened more often because they are more likely to have HPV.
If you turned 61 before 30 March 2020, your screening journey is complete. You will not receive another invitation for cervical screening.
Please ask your sample taker to check your eligibility if you're unsure about it.
Change to how often some people are screened
If you are aged 30 to 44 you will be invited for cervical screening every 5 years, instead of every 3 years.
This change to how often you are screened is because we have moved to a better screening test.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.