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Hannah Kingston

Mar 25, 20227 min read

What does bleeding after pap smear mean?


Written by Hannah Kingston on September 2, 2021 

What does bleeding after a pap smear mean? Bleeding after a pap smear may feel like an alarming thing to happen, but try not to worry, it is actually very common to notice some light bleeding or spotting a couple of days after getting a pap smear. 

Read on to find out more about what causes bleeding after a pap smear and when you should seek further medical advice. 

What does bleeding after a pap smear mean?

Many people will experience some light bleeding or spotting a couple of days after they receive a pap smear. The bleeding is usually caused by irritation to the cervix during the examination. 

In the majority of cases, this is nothing to worry about and you will not require any further medical attention. Bleeding after a pap smear sometimes occurs when the speculum (the instrument used to open the walls of the vagina) or the swab used to scrape cells from the cervix irritates the blood vessels which cover the cervix. 

If you experience heavy bleeding after a pap smear, it is generally caused by the heavy bleeding experienced during a person's monthly period coinciding closely with the test. If you are not on your period, heavy bleeding could be a sign of another health condition or infection and you should speak with a healthcare professional about it. 

Read: Can you get a pap smear on your period? 

Can a speculum make you bleed? 

As mentioned, the speculum is a tool that is used to help a health care professional to gain access to the cervix. Gynecologists use it to open the walls of the vagina and examine the vagina and cervix.

Once the speculum is in place, your doctor will collect a sample of cells from the cervix. The speculum may cause some slight discomfort, but this should not discourage you to go and get tested. 

Some light bleeding or mild cramping is temporary but the knowledge of your cervical cancer risk will hugely help to put your mind at ease in the long run. 

Read: What causes abnormal pap smears other than HPV? 

What is the first sign of cervical cancer?

One of the first signs of cervical cancer is bleeding between periods. 

Some more common signs and symptoms of cervical cancer include: 

  • Menstrual bleeding that is longer or heavier than usual
  • Bleeding after intercourse
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause


While uncommon, advanced cervical cancer may cause the following symptoms:

  • Excessive tiredness
  • Leg pain or swelling
  • Lower back pain.

Who should go for a pap smear?

A Pap test can be uncomfortable and cause a little bleeding but the peace of mind is worth attending regular pap smears and/or HPV tests. .

Who should go for a pap smear depends on your age, risk and medical history.

Here is a short summary: 

  • Ages 21 to 29: every 3 years.
  • Ages 30 to 69: every three years.
  • Age 70 or older: You do not need any more Pap tests if your three previous tests have been normal.

Read: Do pap smears hurt? Plus other FAQs



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