how to know if you should get a cervical screening test

Do I need a Cervical Screening Test?

If you have a cervix, have ever been sexually active (with anyone), are over 25 years of age and it’s been two years since your last Pap test – you need a Cervical Screening Test.

Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. Regular cervical screening tests can reduce your risk of being diagnosed with cervical cancer. Almost 80% of cervical cancers occur in people who have never been screened or who are not up-to-date with their cervical screening.

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What if my healthcare provider told me I don’t need one?

Anyone with a cervix, regardless of gender identity, sexuality or sexual history, is at risk and needs regular cervical screening.

HPV causes 99.7% of cervical cancers. HPV can be transmitted through any kind of sexual contact, including vaginal/front hole sex, anal sex, oral sex, genital skin-to-skin contact, fingering, fisting or sharing sex toys.

HPV is also incredibly common. Most people will have HPV at some point in their lives, so even if you’ve only had one sexual partner, you need cervical screening.

Do I need a Cervical Screening Test if I’ve only had one sexual partner?

Yes! HPV is very common. Most people will have HPV at some point in their lives, so even if you’ve only had one sexual partner, you need cervical screening.

My doctor says I don’t need cervical screening because I’m a lesbian.

If you have a cervix, regardless of how you identify or who you have sex with, you are at risk of cervical cancer.

I don’t have sex that involves penetration. Do I still need to get a Cervical Screening Test?

Yes. HPV can be transmitted through any kind of sexual contact, including genital skin-to-skin contact, oral sex, fingering, and sharing sex toys.

I’m asexual / I haven’t had sex in years. Do I still need a Cervical Screening Test?

Yes. If you have a cervix and have ever been sexually active (with anyone), you need regular cervical screening, even if you are currently not sexually active. It often takes years – on average 10 years – for an HPV infection to develop into cervical cancer, so it’s important to keep screening even if it’s been a long time since you were sexually active.

Do trans men need to get a cervical screening test?

Yes. Trans men who have a cervix and are 25 years of age or older are at risk of cervical cancer and need regular cervical screening.

What if I’m on testosterone?

Yes. Being on T doesn’t reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer.

For some people on testosterone (and some post-menopausal people), hormonal changes to the vagina/front hole can mean getting a good sample of cells from the cervix can be difficult and can make the procedure uncomfortable. You might need to get a prescription from your GP for topical oestrogen before your Cervical Screening Test – it’s only temporary and rarely has any side effects, and it can make the procedure far less uncomfortable.

Some people are eligible for self-collection, where you use a swab to take a sample from the vagina/front hole yourself, which is then tested for HPV. This test isn’t as accurate as the one taken by a clinician, but if you’ve never been screened or are overdue – then it’s worth getting it done. If you test positive for HPV, you will have to come back in for more testing to make sure there are no pre-cancerous changes in the cells of your cervix.

I had the Gardasil vaccine at school. Do I still need cervical screening?

Yes. The Gardasil vaccine protects against the two most common types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer (HPV 16 and 18) but not all of them.

I just had a Pap test. When is my next Cervical Screening Test due?

If you’re 25 or over and your last Pap test was all clear, you’ll be due for your first Cervical Screening Test in 2 years. If your last Pap test detected any abnormalities, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about the next steps.

Do I still need cervical screening if I’ve been through menopause?

Yes. If you’ve ever been sexually active (with anyone), it’s important to continue screening until you have a final Cervical Screening Test when you’re 70-74 years old.

For some post-menopausal people (and some people who use testosterone), hormonal changes to the vagina/front hole can mean getting a good sample of cells from the cervix can be difficult and can make the procedure uncomfortable. You might need to get a prescription from your GP for topical oestrogen before your Cervical Screening Test – it’s only temporary and rarely has any side effects, and it can make the procedure far less uncomfortable.

Some people are eligible for self-collection, where you use a swab to take a sample from the vagina/front hole yourself, which is then tested for HPV. This test isn’t as accurate as the one taken by a clinician, but if you’ve never been screened or are overdue – then it’s worth getting it done. If you test positive for HPV, you will have to come back in for more testing to make sure there are no pre-cancerous changes in the cells of your cervix.

I’ve had a hysterectomy. Do I still need cervical screening?

If you had a full hysterectomy where your uterus was entirely removed, including the cervix, you don’t require cervical screening. However, if you had a partial hysterectomy, which preserves the cervix, you will definitely need to continue cervical screening. It’s best to discuss your ongoing needs with your GP or healthcare provider.