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Navigating Cervical Health: Your Guide to HPV Self-Screening in New Zealand

Colleen Bowring By: November 10, 2023
Cervical Smear

Cervical screening has changed in New Zealand. An easier ‘self-test’ has been introduced to make your screenings quicker and less invasive. Keep reading as our Group Nursing Director, Colleen Bowring details everything you need to know about the new Human papillomavirus infection (HPV) Self-Screening.

What’s new, and how does it affect me?

The way we conduct cervical screening has changed. Instead of the traditional smear test, which needs to be done by your GP or practice nurse, you may have the option of doing an HPV self-screening swab. For clinical reasons, some people will need a healthcare professional to take their cervical samples instead of self-testing.

This new technology allows you to ‘self-screen’. This means you can conduct a self-test in private at your GP clinic or in the comfort of your home. Performing the self-test is very simple, as it only requires a vaginal swab instead of the usual cervix swab.

Like many other Kiwi women, Lisa had been putting off her routine cervical screening for a few months now. She never liked getting them; she prefers to keep her privates to herself. Fortunately, with the new cervical self-screening, she can!

“I’ve always understood that attending my regular cervical smears is important, but the thought of having someone so close to my privates always gives me the heebie-jeebies.

The new HPV self-screening has been a massive game-changer for me. Performing the test myself at home allows me to feel much more comfortable. Knowing that I don’t have to stress regarding cervical smears brings me real peace of mind.”

For most people, regular screening will only be needed every five years (or 3-yearly if you’re immune deficient). It is available to women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 69 who have ever had intimate skin-to-skin contact or any sexual activity, no matter your sexual orientation.

Cervical self-test

Cervical Health & Early Detection

Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. The best way to protect yourself is to ensure you have regular cervical screenings and an HPV immunisation. Screening allows for early detection as well as follow-up testing and treatment. This screening helps us healthcare providers to spot any abnormal changes in the cervix that could be signs of cervical cancer. Early detection greatly enhances the chances of successful treatment and recovery.

Furthermore, regular screening helps with proactive measures in women’s health. Not only do we look at potential changes in the cervix, but we can also potentially uncover other non-cancerous issues, such as infections or inflammation. In general, routine checks allow us to identify potential health issues before they become more serious problems. Therefore leading to less invasive and costly treatments in the future.

The process for your cervical screening is still very similar to how it was previously. The GP clinic will contact you when it is time for your cervical screening. Once we have contacted you, you will need to make an appointment. At the appointment, you can discuss the best method for your screening. If you elect for the self-test, your GP will give you the self-test kit. You will then go home or somewhere private at the clinic and perform the self-test. When you have completed the self-test, return the kit to the GP or Nurse so they can assess the results.

Performing the test is easy. All you need to do is follow the instructions from the graphic below. Click here for the Te Reo Māori translation.

Cervical-Self Screening

What’s next?

If your self-screening results return normal, you go into a 5-year cycle*. In the event that the results come back abnormal, then you’ll be asked to come in to do a traditional cervical screening with your healthcare provider.

When you perform a self-test or have a clinician-taken swab test, and HPV is detected, you must either return for a cervical cell sample to be taken or you’ll be referred to a specialist clinic. This will depend on the type of HPV found. Around 10% of participants will have an HPV-detected result.

As previously mentioned, we encourage you to get your HPV immunisation. This allows you to best protect yourself from HPV.

The introduction of HPV self-screening in New Zealand offers a more comfortable and private way to protect your cervical health. Whether you choose self-screening or traditional methods, it’s essential to maintain regular screenings to allow for early detection. Contact us today to book your next cervical screening.



*Please note that HPV screenings outside of your cycle will come at an extra cost.

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