Cervical Screening

Women who are aged between 25 and 69 years, and have been sexually active, should have a cervical smear test every three years. 

A cervical screening test is not a test to look for cancer. It is a screening test that looks for early cell changes on the cervix. If these changes are not treated they may go on to become a cancer. 

Early treatment of these cells is very effective at preventing cervical cancer. And it is important to know that almost all cervical cancer is caused by a virus call human papillomavirus or HPV. This virus is very common and spread by sexual activity.

The cost of having a cervical screening can vary. However most health providers offer the service for free for:

  • Māori, Pacific & Asian women aged 25 -69 years
  • other women who are 30 & over who have never been screened or have not been screened in the last 5 years

Who should have smear tests?

If you:

  • are a woman or trans or non-binary person with a cervix
  • are aged between 25 and 69 (from November 2019 the start age changed from 20 to 25 - find out more)
  • have ever been sexually active

then you should have regular smear tests. 

This includes if you:

  • are immunised against HPV
  • are single
  • only have sex with women
  • have a disability
  • have been through menopause
  • are no longer having sex.

If you have had a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) check with your health provider if you still need to be screened.

Not started screening yet and under 25?

If you haven’t start screening yet, you will be invited to start screening as you approach 25. It is safe to start screening as soon as you receive your invitation. Remember, if you don’t receive your invitation, you can contact your health provider directly to arrange a test.

Where do I get a cervical smear test?

Contact your family doctor/GP, practice nurse, midwife or Māori health provider.

(Māori health provider list in right hand column)

Free smears are available for some women. To find out if you qualify for a free smear, ask your nurse or health professional.

For more information about having your smear test, click here.

Concerned about unusual symptoms?

Women of any age who experience symptoms such as unusual bleeding, a persistent discharge or pain, should talk to their healthcare provider directly.

 Have questions? Call us: 0800 729 729