When you may not need a cervical screening test
In some cases, you may not need to have a cervical screening test or it may be recommended that you delay having one.
If, at any time, you have concerns or symptoms of cervical cancer you should contact your GP immediately. Even if you have had a recent normal screening result, never ignore symptoms.
- a pain in your pelvis (anywhere between your bellybutton and the tops of your thighs)
- irregular vaginal bleeding
- bleeding between periods
- vaginal spotting or discharge
- pain during sex
- bleeding after sex
We don't use a screening test to detect changes in the womb, ovaries, fallopian tubes or the vagina.
A screening test also does not check for sexually transmitted infections.
You should talk to your GP immediately if you have concerns about any of these issues.
Have never had sex
If you have never had sex or sexual contact, your risk of developing cervical cancer is low. If you do become sexually active, you should begin having screening tests.
Even if you are not currently sexually active, but have been in the past, you should have a screening test. Sexually active means either:
- skin-to-skin sexual contact
- vaginal sex
- anal sex
- oral sex
A screening test isn't usually recommended while you're pregnant. Your GP will usually tell you to wait until 3 months after the birth before having another screening test.
You can call us on Freephone 1800 45 45 55 to defer your test.
But if you have had abnormal results in the past you may be advised to have one while you are pregnant.
If you have had a previous abnormal result and are unsure if you should attend your scheduled repeat screening test, contact your GP.
Having a screening test while you are pregnant will not increase your risk of having a miscarriage. But, you may have slight bleeding afterwards. Abnormal cells on your cervix will have no effect on your pregnancy.
If you're pregnant and are due to attend colposcopy, you should attend as scheduled. A colposcopy can be done safely during pregnancy.
If you have recently had a miscarriage and are due your screening test, you should wait 3 months before having your next test. This is so as to get the best cell samples.
If you have had a hysterectomy, you should check with your GP. They will tell you if you need to continue having regular screening tests.
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)
If you have had a total hysterectomy (uterus and cervix removed), your GP will be able to advise you whether you should have further screening tests
But, if you have had a total hysterectomy and your last screening test found abnormalities, you should have a repeat test. The test will take a sample from the top of your vagina. This is called a vault smear.
If you are unsure what type of hysterectomy you had, your GP can tell you. They will tell you whether you need a screening test.
Aged 60 and over
If you are aged 60 and over, you aren't usually invited for screening.
But, if you are 60 or over and have never had a screening test - and want to have one - you should talk to your GP.
If you're over 60 and have had abnormal test results, you may need more frequent screening tests. Your recommended follow-up will continue regardless of age.
Trans men (people who have changed gender from female to male) who have had a total hysterectomy do not need to have cervical screening tests.
If you are a trans man aged 25 to 60 and still have a cervix, you should have a cervical screening test.
If you have a cervix and are:
- a trans man registered with social services as female, you may be on our register and may receive invitations for cervical screening between the ages of 25 and 60
- a trans man registered with social services as male, you are eligible for screening but will not receive automatic invitations - you will need to request screening appointments at your GP practice or clinic
You don't need to get an invitation letter from us to be screened. If you are aged 25 to 60, you can book one with a registered GP or clinic when it is due.
If you are a trans women (people who have changed gender from male to female) aged 25 to 60, you may be sent an invitation letter to attend cervical screening.
You will get this letter unless you have already told us about your change of gender.
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.