Skip to main contentSkip to main content

Cervical screening


Cervical screening is a test used to help prevent cancer. A sample of cells will be taken from the cervix and checked.

Cervical screening tests for human papillomaviruses that can cause changes to the cells in the cervix. If not treated, cell changes can become cancer.

The risks of cervical screening include light bleeding or spotting after the test. If you need treatment, there are other risks, such as infection.

Women and people with a cervix aged between 25 and 64 should have regular cervical screening. You should be invited by letter to make an appointment.

When you get a letter inviting you for cervical screening, call your GP surgery or go on their website to book an appointment.

During cervical screening, a tube-shaped tool is put into your vagina and a sample of cells is taken using a soft brush. It takes less than 5 minutes.

There are things you can do that might make the cervical screening test easier, such as breathing exercises or bringing someone with you for support.

Your cervical screening result letter will tell you if human papillomavirus was found in your sample and what this means.

You can get support with cervical screening from a GP, GOV.UK and other organisations, such as Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust and the LGBT foundation.

Page last reviewed: 01/01/1970
Next review due: 01/01/1970