The NHS cervical screening programme invites women from age 25 to 64 for cervical screening. You get an invite every 3 years if you are aged 25 to 49. After that, you get an invite every 5 years until the age of 64. You need to be registered with a GP to get your screening invitations.
Cervical screening is also for anyone within this age range who has a cervix, such as trans men and non-binary people. You can talk to your GP about this or visit Trans and non-binary cancer screening | Cancer Research UK for more information.
Smear Tests For People With a Learning Disability
Smear tests are happening and you may get a letter inviting you to go. We know you may find smear tests confusing or worrying, but you are not alone if you feel this way. You may want a friend, carer, or learning disability nurse to read it with you.
For a guide to what happens at your smear test, please click here.
Why younger women don't have screening
Cervical cancer is very rare in women younger than 25. But changes in the cells of the cervix are quite common in this age group. These changes often return to normal and are less likely to develop into cancer. So screening them leads to unnecessary treatment and worry.
Researchers have worked out that screening younger women leads to more harms than benefits.
The following websites can provide you with further information about why Cervical Screening is so important.
Symptoms of cervical cancer
Often there are no symptoms. However, see your GP if you notice:
- Bleeding after sex
- Bleeding between periods
- Bleeding after the menopause
- Heavy discharge
- Pain during sex
Most cases of cervical cancer are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and can be largely prevented by:
- The HPV vaccine which is offered to girls aged between 12-13 and can reduce the risk of cervical cancer by 70%
- Having regular smear tests
Specialist clinics for cervical screening
There are specialist clinics available for people who may feel uncomfortable going for cervical screening.
CliniQ are a holistic sexual health and well being service for all trans people, partners and friends. They are a trans-led team, who offer a safe, confidential space for those who may not feel comfortable accessing mainstream services. They provide a cervical screening service.
My Body Back Project is a specialist service that run clinics where women who have experienced sexual assault are able to access cervical screening. All the female staff are trained to work with women who have experienced sexual violence.