Further Information for women and men about cervical screening
What if I'm pregnant?
Cervical screening is safe while you are pregnant. If your Cervical Screening Test (CST) is due while you are pregnant, you may choose to wait until after the birth of your baby. In these circumstances, you should have your CST at your 6 - 12 week post-natal check-up. There is no connection between having a CST and miscarriage. Talk to your doctor about the best time to have your CST.
The Cervical Screening Test: Women over 70
Women aged 70-74 will receive an invitation to have an 'exit' CST. If human papillomavirus (HPV) is not detected, the risk of developing cervical cancer is low - you will not need to attend any further screening.
However, you may need to continue screening if:
- the ‘exit’ test detects HPV;
- you have had abnormal results from previous screening tests; or
- you had a hysterectomy as part of treatment for a cervical abnormality.
If at any age you have symptoms, such as pain, unusual vaginal discharge or bleeding or recent persistent unusual changes, you should see your doctor or healthcare provider straightaway.
Are there resources in languages other than English?
Yes, information is available about the CST and preventing cervical cancer in languages other than English.
If you are between 25 and 74 years, it is important that you have a CST every five years. It is not affected by what language you speak or how long you have been in Australia.
These resources are available at Australian Government Department of Health.
Information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women
If you are between 25 and 74 years, it is important that you have a CST every five years after your first CST.
You should have a CST even if you feel healthy. This is because cervical cancer and HPV infections usually have no symptoms.
You can have a CST at:
- your doctor’s rooms;
- Aboriginal Health Services; and
- some women’s and community health centres.
Ask your doctor, nurse or Aboriginal health worker about the CST.
More information is available at Aboriginal Health Services Tasmania.
Information for women with disabilities
If you are between 25 and 74 years you should have a CST every five years. Some women with disabilities may face barriers in having a CST. You are encouraged to discuss any concerns you have about having a CST with your doctor.
I'm lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning or intersex (LGBTQI)
If you have ever been sexually active, have a cervix, and are between 25 and 74 years, you should have a CST every five years after your first CST.
HPV infection can occur through sexual contact between two people, regardless of their gender. You are at risk of HPV infection even if you have only ever had one instance of sexual activity.
Talking to your partner
You can get an HPV infection during your first sexual activity and may have had HPV for a long time without ever knowing it. Finding out you have HPV does not mean you or your partner have been unfaithful.
It is your decision whether to tell your partner you have HPV. If you do decide to tell your partner you have HPV, this information may help:
- HPV is very common in women and men who have ever had sex – four out of five people will have HPV at some point in their lives, and most will not know it;
- in most cases the body clears a HPV infection within 1-2 years;
- the virus can remain dormant in your body for more than 10 years; and
- there is no reason to stop being sexually active because you have HPV.
Genital warts may occur as a result of HPV infection. You may choose to discuss this with your partner as they are also at risk of developing genital warts. Genital warts respond well to treatment.
Does HPV affect men?
HPV can affect men as well. The virus causes:
- 95% of anal cancer;
- about 64% of oropharyngeal (tonsils, throat, base of tongue) cancers; and
- some penile cancers.
There is currently no approved screening test for HPV in men. If you have concerns or questions, you should speak to your doctor.