A cervical screening test is designed to check the health of your cervix (the neck of your womb) and detect any abnormal cell changes that may develop into cancer if left untreated.
The NHS Cervical Screening Programme in England offers free tests to women aged 25 to 64. All women aged 25 to 49 are invited to have a routine cervical screening test every 3 years, and women aged 50 to 64 are invited every 5 years.
In most cases, it's not recommended that a woman has a cervical screening test while she is, or could be, pregnant. This is because pregnancy can make the result of your test harder to interpret.
If you're planning a pregnancy, it's a good idea to ask your GP if you are up to date with your cervical screening. This means that any tests or treatment can be arranged around the pregnancy.
If you are already pregnant and are due for a cervical screening test, the test will usually be postponed until 3 months after your baby is born. Tell your GP or clinic that you are pregnant when you are invited for your test.
However, if you have previously had an abnormal result from a cervical screening test, or you have never had a smear test you may need to be screened while you are pregnant. Your GP or midwife may ask you to have a cervical screening test at your first antenatal appointment. The smear test will not interfere with your pregnancy.
Who is recommended to have a smear test during pregnancy:
- If you have missed/defaulted previous screening invitations
- If you have previously had treatment for CIN2 or CIN3 that was incompletely removed (cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, with involved margins)
- If you have previously had treatment for cervical cancer and you are less than 10 years post treatment
- If you are currently under follow up at Colposcopy clinic
If you have received a letter inviting you for a smear test when you are pregnant and you are not sure whether you should have it or not please ask your midwife.