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Cervical Screening Awareness Posted or Updated on 17 Jun 2024

Cervical Screening Awareness Week 17 - 23 June 2024 

Cervical screening is an important tool in the fight against cancer. With nearly 1 in 3 not attending their cervical screening test we want to share where to find information and support if you’re worried about cervical screening or your screening results.

What is cervical screening?

Cervical screening is a way of preventing cervical cancer (cancer of the cervix). It uses tests to find abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.

The first part of cervical screening is to have a smear test. This is also called the cervical screening test.

We have more information about having a smear test.

How painful is a cervical screening (smear) test? Does it hurt?

A cervical smear test should not hurt, but sometimes it can feel uncomfortable. If you're worried about the test causing you pain, your GP or practice nurse can explain ways they can make the test easier for you.

What is a cervical screening (smear) test looking for?

A cervical screening test checks for abnormal cell changes in the cervix. Cervical cell changes are common, and often improve naturally. But sometimes these changes need treatment because there is a risk they may develop into cancer.

In England, Scotland and Wales, the sample is tested for a virus called HPV first. Samples that show high-risk HPV are then checked under a microscope for abnormal cells. 

In Northern Ireland, the sample of cells are now also first tested for HPV.

The aim of cervical screening is to check for certain types of HPV and any abnormal cell changes early that might develop into cervical cancer if left untreated.

Do I need cervical screening if I’m a virgin or from the LGBTQ+ community

Cervical screening is for anyone who has a cervix, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The aim of cervical screening is to check for certain types of HPV and any abnormal cell changes early that might develop into cervical cancer if left untreated. You can get HPV through:

·       vaginal, oral or anal sex

·       any skin-to-skin contact of the genital area

·       sharing sex toys

You're still at risk of cervical cancer if:

·       you've had the HPV vaccine – it does not protect you from all types of HPV, so you're still at risk of cervical cancer

·       you've only had 1 sexual partner – you can get HPV the first time you're sexually active

·       you've had the same partner, or not had sex, for a long time – you can have HPV for a long time without knowing it

·       you're a lesbian or bisexual – you're at risk if you've had any sexual contact

·       you're a trans man with a cervix

·       you've had a partial hysterectomy that did not remove all of your cervix

If you've never had any kind of sexual contact with a man or woman, you may decide not to go for cervical screening when you're invited. But you can still have a test if you want to. If you would be happy to discuss it, making the practice aware of your decisions and reasons is helpful in ensuring we stop keep contacting you, and that we can understand the reasons people chose not to have screening.

If you're not sure whether to have cervical screening, please book an appointment to talk to our nurse.

If you are a trans man or non-binary person and have a cervix, you should have screening too. But, you may not be sent an invitation if you are registered as male with your GP. Tell your GP if you want to have cervical screening, so they can arrange regular tests for you.

You do not need cervical screening if you are a trans woman or were assigned male at birth.

Places to find out more

Cervical Screening Awareness Week (

Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust | Cervical Cancer Charity (

Cervical screening - NHS (