You'll be sent an invitation letter in the post when it's time to book your cervical screening appointment.
Your letter will tell you where you can go for cervical screening and how to book.
Most cervical screening is done in a GP surgery by a female nurse or doctor.
In some parts of England, you may be able to go to a local sexual health clinic instead.
Call your GP surgery to book an appointment with them. You might be able to book the appointment online.
If you do not have a letter
Call your GP surgery to book an appointment if you think you need cervical screening but:
- you have not been sent a letter
- you have lost the letter
If you're not registered with a GP
You'll still get a letter.
To book a cervical screening appointment, you can:
- register with a GP – read more about how to register with a GP
- go to a walk-in centre that offers cervical screening
- go to a sexual health service that offers cervical screening
When to book cervical screening
Try to book your appointment as soon as you get invited. If you missed your last cervical screening, you do not need to wait for a letter.
It's best to book an appointment for a time when:
- you're not having a period – also try to avoid the 2 days before or after you bleed (if you do not have periods, you can book any time)
- you have finished treatment if you have unusual vaginal discharge or a pelvic infection
Read more about cervical screening during pregnancy if:
- you're pregnant now
- you have recently given birth
- you're planning a pregnancy
- you have recently had a miscarriage or abortion
Avoid using any vaginal medicines, lubricants or creams in the 2 days before you have your test as they can affect the results.
Things to ask when you book
It's OK to let the GP surgery know if you have any worries about going for cervical screening.
let them know if you'd like a woman to do the test – most nurses and doctors who take cervical screening samples are female
let them know if you'd like someone else to be in the room with you (a chaperone) – this could be someone you know, another nurse or a trained member of staff
ask for a longer appointment if you think you might need more time – some GPs can offer a double booking
let them know if you're finding the test more difficult after going through the menopause – they can prescribe a vaginal oestrogen cream or pessary before the test
ask for a smaller speculum (a smooth, tube-shaped tool that's put into your vagina so they can see your cervix)
try not to be embarrassed about talking to the nurse or doctor on the day – they're trained to make you feel more comfortable and provide support
Page last reviewed: 31 March 2020
Next review due: 31 March 2023