The NHS Cervical Screening Programme invites women between the ages of 25 to 64, registered with a GP, for cervical screening (“smear test”). Women aged 25 to 49, are offered a are invited for a screening appointment every 3 years. Women aged 50-64 years are invited for screening every 5 years.

One of the best things you can do to protect yourself from cervical cancer is to attend your screening appointment as symptoms of cervical cancer are not always obvious. Around 5,000 women each year are saved by cervical screening.

Cervical screening involves taking a small sample of cells from the surface of your cervix which is then checked for any abnormal cells. Remember: abnormal cells are not cancer but may develop into cancer if untreated.

Your GP should contact you when your screening appointment is due. If you think your cervical screening is overdue contact your GP to arrange an appointment.

Always speak with your GP if you experience the following:

  • Unusual bleeding such as during or after sex, between your periods and after the menopause
  • Pain and discomfort during sex
  • Unpleasant vaginal discharge
  • Pain in lower back or pelvis
  • Blood in your pee
  • Severe pain in your side
  • Losing control of your bladder or bowels


Visit the NHS webpages on cervical cancer for more information.