Women’s Health

Cervical Cancer Screening / Cervical Smears

The National Screening Unit recommends that all females who are sexually active or have been sexually active between the ages of 25 and 70 have regular cervical smear tests.

A cervical smear test can be performed by one of

our nurses but can be done by a doctor if requested. Please request a double appointment at the time of booking. Some people are eligible for a free cervical smear test. After the first cervical smear test, another test is required a year later, and  if the test comes back normal every three yearly after that. If there are any changes detected by the tests, you may need more regular testing or further investigation.

For information about cervical smear tests, click here, which is provided by the National Screening Unit.

Breast Cancer Screening / Mammogram

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in New Zealand women and the risk of developing breast cancer increases with age.

Currently, in New Zealand there is a free national breast screening programme for women aged 45-69 years which involves having a mammogram every 2 years. If a screening mammography indicates an abnormality, the woman will most likely be recommended for further testing. This test is free for eligible New Zealanders. You do not have to wait for a letter from the Breast Screening Programme, you can also register yourself on the programme by ringing Breastscreen Aotearoa on 0800 270 200 or registering online, click here.

For more information on breast screening click here.

Maternity Care

If you are pregnant, you can make an appointment with your usual doctor to discuss your options for maternity care. This single maternity care visit is free for eligible patients in the first trimester. Most of our patients opt for midwifery care. For more information about contacting a midwife in Canterbury, please click here.

Read more about maternity services in New Zealand.

Mother and Baby

Influenza (Flu) Vaccine for Pregnant Women

Having the flu during pregnancy can be harmful for both mother and baby. It can cause premature birth, stillbirth, smaller babies and perinatal death. Flu vaccination of women during any stage of pregnancy is highly effective in preventing flu and its complications during pregnancy and for up to six months after birth. Both the whooping cough and flu vaccine can be given together and are funded for eligible women.

For more information about the Influenza Vaccine please click here.

Whooping Cough Vaccine for Pregnant Women

A whooping cough vaccine (known as Boostrix) is funded for women from 28 weeks to 38 weeks pregnant. Whooping cough vaccination provides protection for both mother and baby.

For more information about the Whooping Cough Vaccine please click here.

Trying to Conceive

If you are thinking about having a baby, you probably know quitting smoking and giving up alcohol are two really important steps to take to give your baby the best start in life. But there are many other factors to think about and plan for before you conceive.

Here are some tips for both men and women if you are planning to start a family:

  • Stop smoking, preferably well before conception. Smoking halves the chance of conception. In women it reduces the number and the quality of the eggs that develop in the ovaries, and may reduce blood flow to the uterus. Miscarriages are more likely in women who smoke. There is some evidence to suggest that tobacco may affect sperm production and quality.
  • Small amounts of alcohol are probably not detrimental, but we recommend not drinking alcohol as soon as women become pregnant, since the negative impact of alcohol on foetal development is well known.
  • Some studies show that caffeine can reduce the chance of pregnancy so it may be worth reducing tea, coffee and cola drinks.
  • Being overweight or underweight can reduce the chances of women falling pregnant or the quality of men’s sperm.
  • Choosing a well-balanced diet filled with vitamin-rich healthy foods is the best way for both men and women to prepare your body for conception and pregnancy. A healthy diet will increase your chance of a healthy conception and maintain your overall health on your journey to parenthood.
  • It’s recommended women start taking folic acid supplements at least one month before pregnancy, and folic acid and iodine supplements are recommended throughout the pregnancy to help reduce the chances of having a baby with neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.
  • Some medications may not be suitable while pregnant. Talk to your doctor to see whether any of them need to be changed when trying to get pregnant and/or during pregnancy.

We can offer pre-pregnancy advice and answer any questions you have.

For more information on pregnancy planning, click here.


Menopause simply means the end of a woman’s menstrual periods. It is a significant hormonal milestone that offers a good opportunity to assess your health and plan for the next phase of your life.

During menopause your body stops preparing for a baby every month – your ovaries stop releasing eggs, they make less and less of the female hormones oestrogen and progestogen, and eventually, your periods stop.

The reduction in female hormones can cause symptoms such as hot flushes, mood swings, night sweats, anxiety, palpitations, depression, decreased libido (sex drive), sleep problems and vaginal dryness.

Menopause is a normal part of life. Allow yourself time to adjust to what you are experiencing and try to get support from others, especially from your partner and family. If they understand what you are going through it will help them know how they can best support you.

Adequate exercise, a healthy, balanced diet, taking time for rest and relaxation, and smoking cessation can all help address the symptoms of menopause.

If you have ongoing symptoms which are not relieved by self-care measures, see your doctor for advice.

For more information on menopause, click here.

For more information on other women’s health, check the information on Health Navigator and Women’s Health Action.