Cervical screening

A woman’s best protection against developing cervical cancer is having regular cervical screening.

A cervical screening test finds abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. Having regular tests can reduce a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer by 90%.

Anyone with a cervix or vagina who has ever been sexually active should have regular cervical screening from the time they turn 25 until they turn 70.

People who have has a hysterectomy should check with their health provider if they still need screening.

Options for screening include a doctor or practice nurse, Family Planning, or community health services such as Māori health services, Pacific health services, women's health services, or screening support services. 

Some Māori and Pacific providers and community and primary health organisations offer a free or low cost service. 

Changes to cells in the cervix happen very slowly – so by having regular screening, there is a very high likelihood that any abnormal cells will be found and treated long before they become cancer.

  • The National Cervical Screening Programme recommends cervical screening every 3 years.
  • People who have previously had abnormal tests may need to have them more often – if you’re unsure, ask your health provider.

To find out more about the cervical screening programme, talk to your doctor, practice nurse or health clinic, or visit the Time to Screen website.


Cervical Screening cover image.
Cervical Screening: What You Need to Know
Available on HealthEd in English and Japanese.

Colposcopy cover image.
Colposcopy: Information for women
Available on HealthEd.

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