When to have your Cervical Screening Test

If it has been two years or longer since your last Pap test, or you haven't had one, then it's time for your two-yearly Cervical Screening Test. Book an appointment with your doctor, nurse, community health or Aboriginal health worker. It may help to explain to the receptionist or nurse that the appointment is for a Cervical Screening Test as you may need a longer appointment.

The best time to have your Cervical Screening Test (the Pap test replacement*) is when you are in the middle of your menstrual cycle. This is:

  • a few days after your period has finished
  • a week before your next period is due.

Within your 28-day menstrual cycle, this is days 9 to 20 of the cycle:

Days 1–7: Menstruation (your period)

Days 9–20: Best time for your Cervical Screening Test

Day 28: Day before your next period

You can have a Cervical Screening Test at any stage in your menstrual cycle. If you have booked an appointment for a Cervical Screening Test and then realised you will probably have your period, call your doctor or nurse to ask whether you should reschedule.

What if my period is irregular?

If your period is irregular, it can be difficult to predict the best time to have the test.

Don’t worry - it is still possible to have your Cervical Screening Test at other times of the menstrual cycle, but the best chance of a satisfactory sample is mid-cycle.

What if I no longer have my period?

If you no longer have periods, any time is suitable for a Cervical Screening Test.

Worried you won’t remember when your next Cervical Screening Test is due?

The National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) will send you a reminder letter when you’re due for your cervical screen.

* In December 2017, the Cervical Screening Test replaced the Pap test as the method of screening women to prevent cervical cancer in Australia.