Can you get a pap smear on your period?

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Can you get a pap smear on your period?



Written by Hannah Kingston on August 23th, 2021

Can you get a pap smear on your period? It’s a question that is Googled time and time again. Let’s bust some myths and present the facts when it comes to getting a pap smear. 

Can you get a pap smear on your period?

You can get a pap smear while on your period. 

Ideally, you should schedule your pap smear for a date when you are not expecting your period, because depending on how heavy your flow is, your period may affect the results of your test.

If you are at the start or beginning of your period, and the flow is lighter, you should be okay to get a pap smear while on your period. 

It’s not always easy to know when your period will arrive. For some people, the menstrual cycle is like clockwork, and you will know exactly when you will get it and for how long. 

For others, periods can be extremely unpredictable and it is harder to know exactly when you will get your period. If you have an appointment with your health-care professional and you get your period on the day or a couple of days ahead of your pap smear, give them a call and ask them what they would recommend. 

It may be possible to schedule a new appointment just a couple of days after you start bleeding. 

If you have scheduled a pelvic examination around the time of your period, it is also still possible to attend that appointment, with just a few exceptions. 

For instance, if you have made the appointment because you are worried about irregular discharge, that may affect your test results. 

Read: Do pap smears hurt? Plus other FAQs

Let’s run through some more common FAQs.

Should I cancel my gynecologist appointment if I have my period?

You do not need to cancel your gynecologist appointment if you have your period, however consider calling your healthcare provider ahead of your appointment if you are concerned about the flow affecting your pap smear. 

How does period affect pap smear results?

Your period doesn’t have a 100% chance of affecting your pap smear results, but there is a slim chance that your results may come back as inconclusive if you are experiencing a heavy period at the time of sample collection. 

This is because the blood could “override” the cell collection so to speak, i.e a heavy period may  hinder a clear reading on the cells that are collected from the cervix. 


Do virgins need pap smear test?

Virgins (those who have not yet had sex) should also undergo regular pap smears. Doctors recommend that everyone undergoes cervical cancer screening regardless of their sexual history. 

Cell changes can occur on the cervix regardless of whether or not you have had sex. We also know that HPV can be transmitted in a number of non-penetrative ways. HPV is a virus, certain strains may lead to the development of cervical cancer. 

HPV can be transmitted even without penetrative sex, as these viruses can be spread with skin-to-skin contact of the genital area, as well as vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

Read: HPV - Everything you need to know

Should I shave before my pap smear?

There is no obligation to shave before a pap smear. Your body, your choice. Healthcare providers have seen it all and there is nothing to be embarrassed about when it comes to pubic hair. 

If your personal preference is to have pubic hair, do not feel a pressure to shave ahead of your pap smear. 

What should you wear to a pap smear?

During pap smears, you will need to take off the lower half of your outfit. For ease of access, you might want to consider wearing a dress, skirt, or loose fitting clothing so you can easily undress and get dressed again before and after your appointment. 

How long does a pap smear last?

A pap smear generally doesn’t last more than ten minutes. It will depend on your unique case but the test itself involves inserting a speculum and a light swabbing of the cervix. Once cells are collected you are good to go. 

What do I do after a pap smear?

There is no after care following a pap smear, once you gotten your samples collected, you are good to go, there are no steps you need to take. 

Your healthcare provider will be able to offer you an estimation on when you should expect your results back from the pap smear.


Tips for your pap smear

  • Do not have sex before your pap smear
  • Do not use lubricants or lotions in or around the vagina ahead of your pap smear
  • Do not douche (wash the vagina) ahead of your pap smear, health professionals generally recommend that you do not engage in vaginal washing as this can have an impact on the natural flora and fauna balance of the vagina. Read: Bacterial vaginosis vs yeast infection: similarities and differences.

Take a deep breath! It’s understandable that you may be feeling nervous ahead of your pap smear, but you are doing the right thing by checking in on your health. Prevention and early diagnosis are truly the best cure.

Read: Home STD Testing: 6 Best At-Home STD Test Kits in 2021


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