Do I need the test?

If you’re between 25 and 64, it’s recommended that you take the cervical screening test as this gives very good protection against developing cervical cancer.

You should contact your GP to make an appointment if you’re:

  • between the ages of 25 and 49 and it’s more than 3 years since you had a test
  • between the ages of 50 and 64 and it’s more than 5 years since you had a test

Yes. The vaccine protects against 2 of the 15 high risk types of human papilloma virus (HPV) which cause 75% of cases of cervical cancer. The vaccine also protects against two other types of HPV that cause about 90% of the cases of genital warts.

The vaccine will not protect against HPV infections picked up before being immunised or against HPV infections caused by the other 13 high risk types. The vaccine offers good protection, but it is still important to attend regular cervical screening tests.

Your risk of developing cervical cancer is very low if you have never been sexually active.

You may decide not to have the test when you are invited. However, you can have the test if you want.

The virus can be passed on through other forms of sexual activity apart from full intercourse. This applies to women of any sexuality.

Changes in your cervix can take many years to develop, so it is important that you have regular cervical screening tests if you have ever been sexually active.

Every woman is invited for a test because it is easily spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact by women or men. You might find it helpful to read 'The Cervical Screening Test – Information for Lesbian and Bisexual Women'.

Yes, the risk of getting cervical cancer increases with age. The test may be more uncomfortable because of changes in the vagina after the menopause. Ask your GP or nurse for advice on ways to reduce discomfort.

If you are pregnant or have a new baby when you are invited for a cervical screening test, speak to your GP or nurse.

You may not need to, check with your GP or nurse.

You should report any symptoms like unusual discharge or bleeding after sex or between periods to your GP as soon as possible.

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Last updated: 03 June 2016