Encouraging our Wahine to have regular cervical smear tests
How the process works
Awareness and conversation
Find out about preventing cervical cancer through smear tests and HPV immunisation.
Having regular cervical smear tests every three years as part of a screening programme can reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer by about 90 percent.
Girls and young women in New Zealand can also be immunised against the four types of human papillomaviruses (HPV) that lead to most cervical cancers and genital warts.
If you are immunised, you will still need to have regular smear tests, because the HPV vaccine doesn't protect against all HPV types that may cause cervical cancer.
If you do not receive an invitation to have a smear test, talk to your GP.
Together, cervical screening and immunisation offer the best protection against cervical cancer.
Decide to have a smear test?
All women who have ever been sexually active should have regular cervical smear tests from the time they turn 20 until they turn 70. Deciding to have a smear test may save your life.
Make an appointment to have your smear test.
It is important you feel comfortable with the person who takes your smear.
You have a choice of where to go to have smears: your local doctor or practice nurse; Family Planning; your sexual health service; marae-based or other Maori health centres; community health services, for example, Pacific or women's health centres.
You can reconsider at anytime
Women who have regular cervical smear tests every three years as part of a screening programme reduce their risk of developing cervical cancer by about 90 percent.
The smear is taken by your doctor or nurse and the sample is sent to an NCSP approved laboratory.
During your appointment you will be asked to lie on your side or your back with your knees bent up. You will be offered a covering to protect your privacy. The smear taker gently opens the vagina with a plastic or metal speculum and carefully sweeps a sample of cells from the surface of the cervix with a thin broom or brush. It takes only a few minutes to take the smear.
An HPV test may be requested at the same time by your smear taker. If you over 30 and have a low grade smear the laboratory will automatically test your sample for HPV.
The result of your smear is reported to your smear taker and added to the National Cervical Screening Programme Register. If you have not received your results within 4 weeks, contact your smear taker.
Following an abnormal result you may be asked to have a repeat smear within 3-12 months or be referred to a colposcopy. In most cases, this does not mean you have cancer.
Referred to colposcopy for an assessment of an abnormality of your cervix.
The biopsy will show whether there are low-grade or high-grade cell changes. Abnormal cells are sometimes treated at the time of the biopsy. If not, you will be asked to come back for further treatment, if treatment is required. Click to find out more about treatment
If you require treatment, your colposcopist will discuss your treatment options with you.
Following treatment you may be asked to have a repeat colposcopy within 6 months. This is to check that the treatment removed the abnormal cells.
The colposcopist will discuss your treatment options and where they are available. Early treatment of abnormal cervical cells has about a 95 percent success rate.
In three years' time you will be invited by your doctor, nurse or other provider for a repeat smear. If your last smear was more than five years ago, or if it was your first smear, you will be invited to have a repeat smear after a year.
You may be recalled early by your smear taker if you have had a cervical abnormality detected. You may also be recalled early, once you have been discharged from coloscopy.
You will be invited back by your doctor, nurse or other provider for a repeat smear test and will need to book an appointment.
In this section
Discuss any timing or other concerns about having your smear test with your smear taker when you ring to make an appointment.
Information on what your cervical screening results mean and how they are reported.
The result of your cervical smear test will be reported to your smear taker by the National Cervical Screening Programme (NCSP) and recorded on a computerised database called the NCSP-Register.
Colposcopy is an examination of the cervix, using a microscope called a colposcope.