Can you get a pap smear while pregnant? What are the advantages, and are there any risks? We explain everything you need to know.
Have a pap smear scheduled but worried about going ahead while you’re expecting?
We’ll take you through everything you need to know about the procedure.
And we’ll answer the all-important question: can you get a pap smear while pregnant?
Let’s dive in.
In this article: 📝
- What does a pap smear do?
- When do you get a pap smear during pregnancy?
- Can a pap smear cause a miscarriage in early pregnancy?
- What about spotting after a pap smear?
- Can a doctor tell if you are pregnant during a pap smear?
- Can you get a pap smear while pregnant? The bottom line
What does a pap smear do?
A pap smear takes cells from your cervix (opening of your womb from your vagina) so that they can be checked for cancer or changes that could lead to cervical cancer.
Routinely, a pap smear includes a test for a virus known as human papillomavirus, or HPV.
HPV is a very common virus: there were about 43 million HPV infections diagnosed in 2018 alone.
In many cases, the infection clears up without causing any problems.
HPV plays a role in causing most cervical cancers, and therefore, that is why it is routinely checked with a PAP smear.
The good news is a pap smear is hugely effective in managing the risks of cervical cancer.
If any abnormalities in the cells of your cervix are detected, your doctor can investigate further and take any action that’s needed.
And, if HPV is found within your sample, you may be invited for another cervical screen test within one year, or a different test may be advised to look into your cervix further.
Even an abnormal result doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem.
But if there is, catching it early means there’s an excellent chance of treatment being successful.
About 92 percent of people who are diagnosed with cervical cancer early are still alive and well five years later.
When do you get a pap smear during pregnancy?
If you’ve had a pap smear within the last three years, and the results were normal, you probably won’t need a pap smear during your pregnancy.
But if you haven’t had one recently, it will usually be carried out during your first prenatal visit.
It’s part of the routine suite of checks carried out early on in your pregnancy.
And it helps your doctor get a clear picture of your health.
Can a pap smear cause a miscarriage in early pregnancy?
A pap smear is completely safe for you and your baby.
The cells are taken from the outside of your cervix.
Nothing goes anywhere near your little peanut.
They’re tucked up safe and sound on the other side of your cervix, inside your uterus.
You may have heard stories of women who’ve miscarried after having a pap smear.
But it’s not a case of one causing the other.
As we’ve seen, pap smears are a routine part of the pre-natal checks done early in pregnancy.
That means that some women experience pregnancy loss after they’ve had a pap smear.
But that’s quite different from saying that the screening has caused the miscarriage.
As long as it’s been properly carried out, a pap smear is safe during pregnancy for both you and your baby.
What about spotting after a pap smear?
It’s understandable to feel anxious about bleeding while you’re pregnant.
But seeing some spots of blood after your pap smear is normal.
And it’s nothing to worry about.
It can happen whenever you have a pap smear.
But it’s particularly likely when you’re pregnant because there’s more blood flowing to your cervix.
And the spotting can last for a couple of days.
Any light spotting is blood coming from your cervix.
It’s not coming from your uterus, and it doesn’t mean anything is wrong.
If you experience heavier bleeding at any stage in your pregnancy, get in touch with your doctor.
Can a doctor tell if you are pregnant during a pap smear?
A pap smear simply removes some cells from your cervix so that they can be tested.
That’s quite different from a pregnancy test, which detects the presence of a particular hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin or HCG.
Home pregnancy tests check for HCG in your urine.
Or a doctor can test for it in your blood.
Can you get a pap smear while pregnant? The bottom line
Can you still get a pap smear while pregnant?
Pap smears are completely safe, whether you’re pregnant or not.
By having one, you’re helping to stay healthy — for you and your little one.
You’ve got this, mama!