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Can I have a cervical screening test during pregnancy?

You will not usually need to have cervical screening if you're pregnant, or could be pregnant, until at least 12 weeks after you've given birth. This is because pregnancy can make it harder to get clear results.

If you're planning a pregnancy

It's a good idea to ask your GP if you're up to date with your cervical screening. This is so any tests or treatment can be arranged around your pregnancy.

If you're already pregnant and due for a cervical screening test

Tell your GP or clinic you're pregnant when you're invited for cervical screening. You will usually be advised to reschedule the test for a date around 12 weeks after your baby is born.

But, if you've previously had an abnormal result from a cervical screening test, you may need to be screened while you're pregnant. Your GP or midwife may ask you to have a cervical screening test at your first antenatal appointment. This test will not affect your pregnancy.

Getting abnormal results while you're pregnant

An abnormal result does not mean you have cancer. Cervical screening is a test to help prevent cancer.

There are different kinds of abnormal result depending on if your sample was tested for:

  • abnormal cell changes in your cervix – left untreated, this could turn into cancer
  • HPV – some types of HPV can lead to cell changes in your cervix and cancer

Depending on the results, you may need:

  • no treatment
  • another cervical screening test 1 year after your abnormal test
  • a colposcopy

Having a colposcopy during pregnancy

A colposcopy is a simple procedure to look at your cervix. It's safe to have during pregnancy.

It's similar to having cervical screening but it's carried out in hospital.

If a colposcopy shows changes to the cells on your cervix, you may need another colposcopy around 3 to 6 months after you give birth, to check on the abnormal cells.

Sometimes you'll need treatment to remove the abnormal cells if they have not returned to normal after giving birth.

You can talk to your GP or midwife about any concerns you have.

It's important to go to all of your follow-up appointments after you've had your baby.

Further information

Page last reviewed: 4 March 2019
Next review due: 4 March 2022