Your cervical screening results are usually sent to you in a letter. Sometimes you may be asked to call your GP to get the results.

When your results should arrive

You should get your results within 14 days. But they can take longer to arrive.

If you have waited longer than you expected, call your GP surgery to see if they have any updates.

Information:

Try not to worry if your results are taking a long time to get to you.

It does not mean anything is wrong, and most people will have a normal result.

What your results mean

Your results letter will explain what was tested for and what your results mean.

Most people will have a normal result. This means you do not need any further tests and you'll be invited for screening again in 3 or 5 years.

Sometimes you'll be asked to come back in 3 months to have the test again. This does not mean there's anything wrong – it's because the results were unclear.

If you have an abnormal result

Your results letter should explain what will happen next.

You may need:

  • no treatment
  • another cervical screening test in 1 year
  • a different test to look at your cervix (colposcopy)

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
Information:

HPV is a common virus and most people will get it in their life. You can get it through any kind of sexual contact.

Result What it means
Abnormal with borderline or low-grade cell changes If no HPV was found, you'll be invited for screening again in 3 or 5 years. If HPV was found, you may need to go for colposcopy.
Abnormal with high-grade cell changes You'll be asked to go for colposcopy.
HPV found (HPV positive) but no cell changes You'll be invited for screening again in 1 year to make sure the HPV is gone. If you get this result 3 times in a row, you may need to go for colposcopy.
HPV found (HPV positive) with cell changes You'll be asked to go for colposcopy.

Important

Having a positive HPV result does not mean your partner has had sex with someone else.

You might have HPV even if you have not been sexually active or had a new partner for many years.

Find out more about HPV

If you need a colposcopy

A colposcopy is a simple procedure to look at your cervix.

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

You might need one if your results show changes to the cells of your cervix.

Find out more about having a colposcopy

Information:

Try not to worry if you have been referred for a colposcopy.

Any changes to your cells will not get worse while you're waiting for your appointment.

Page last reviewed: 26/02/2019
Next review due: 26/02/2022