Videos: Having a cervical sample taken

Videos for our English, Pacific and Rainbow communities.

Steps of the procedure

Appointments usually take around 15 minutes, but it actually only takes a few minutes to have your cervical sample taken.

If this is a follow-up test after HPV has already been found in a vaginal swab test, your cervical sample will be used to check for cell changes.

If you have not had an HPV swab test, the cervical sample will first be tested for HPV. Only if the virus is found will the sample then also be checked for cell changes.

Here is what to expect.


At the start of your appointment, ask the sample-taker to go through what they are going to do, and ask any questions you might have.


The sample-taker will invite you to lie on a bed in a private area. You can lie on your back with your knees bent up, or on your side. A sheet will be provided so you can cover up as needed.


When you are ready your sample-taker will gently open your vagina with a speculum (a speculum is a duck-bill-shaped device that helps them see and access your cervix).


They will then use a soft brush to carefully take a small sample of cells from the surface of your cervix.

This might feel uncomfortable but at any time if it hurts, or you are in pain, let your sample-taker know.


Your sample-taker will let you know when they have finished taking the cell sample and, once it’s done, you can get dressed.


Your sample will be sent to a laboratory to be tested.

Helpful tips when having a cervical sample taken

The following are some ways that might make the process more comfortable for you.

  • Wear clothing on the bottom half that is easy to take on and off, or a skirt you can simply pull up and leave on.
  • Use the sheet or blanket provided to keep yourself covered and comfortable.
  • Request a specific screen-taker if there is someone you prefer.
  • Ask for someone from your culture to take your screen.
  • Try to breathe deeply and relax your legs.
  • Some find lying on their side is more comfortable.
  • Take a friend or whānau member for support.
  • Get your test done with a friend.

Your cervical sample results

Your results will be sent to your screening provider in 1 to 2 weeks. They will let you know when and how you will receive your results, and if any further follow-up is needed.

If you have any questions after your test, contact your screening provider.

Results of your HPV test (internal link)

Find a screening provider

If you are ready to get screened, find a screening provider. There a range of healthcare providers who may suit your needs.

HealthPoint, a healthcare provider directory, offers another way to find screening providers in your area.

Enter cervical screening in the search bar of the Healthpoint website.

Healthpoint (external link)