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Cervical Screening (smear tests)

Cervical screening is a free health test available on the NHS as part of the national cervical screening programme. It helps prevent cervical cancer by checking for a virus called high-risk HPV and cervical cell changes.

Who can have a smear?

You should be invited for cervical screening if you have a cervix. Women are usually born with a cervix, however trans men, non-binary and intersex people may also have one.

In the UK, you are automatically invited for cervical screening if you are:

  • between the ages of 25 to 64
  • registered as female with a GP practice.

If you are not registered as female with your GP practice, but have a cervix you are still eligible, and welcome to request cervical screening.

When can I have a smear?

Currently women aged 25 to 49 receive invitations every 3 years. Women aged 50 to 64 receive invitations every 5 years. You may get your first invite up to 6 months before you turn 25. You can book an appointment as soon as you get the invite.

Where can I find out more?

The NHS website provides information for the public on the Cervical Screening Programme.

Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust is a charity which provides information and support to patients and professionals.

Cervical Screening is offered in all Community CaSH venues and in some Sexual Health Hubs (GUM) by regionally trained nurses. Click here to see how to book an appointment.

'I have to compliment everyone on their pleasant persona and their expertise and knowledge. By the end of the 5 days, I did not feel as though I had been in a hospital ward and was very relaxed.'

Patient, Ward 16 Orthopaedics, University Hospital of North Durham