Why isn't cervical screening offered to women who are under 25?

This is because changes in the young cervix are normal. If they were thought to be abnormal this could lead to unnecessary treatment which could have consequences for women's childbearing. Any abnormal changes can be easily picked up and treated from the age of 25. Rarely, younger women experience symptoms such as unexpected bleeding or bleeding after intercourse. If this happens to you, then please see your GP for advice.

A research paper, Sasieni P, Castañón A, Cuzick J. Effectiveness of cervical screening with age: population based case-control study of prospectively recorded data. BMJ 2009; 339:b2968, focusing on women screened under the age of 25 was published in the BMJ. It stated:

'Cervical screening in women aged 20-24 is substantially less effective in preventing cancer (and in preventing advanced stage tumours) than is screening in older women'

Further information on why women under 25 are not invited.

Back to frequently asked questions.