Can You Get a Pap Smear on Your Period?

Can You Get a Pap Smear on Your Period

Getting a pap smear is essential to screen cervical cancer cells. If you are on your period and wondering whether you can get the Pap smear done while on your period, then in this article, we will guide you through.

What is Pap Smear?

A Pap smear, also known popularly as a Pap test, is a type of screening test. It detects cells that have the possibility of turning into cervical cancer cells. 

Depending on the age, this test can be done after every 3 or 5 years to screen for cervical cancer. Some medical institutes have recommended getting a Pap smear during the middle of the cycle or about 9-20 days after the first day of your period. (1

How Pap Smear is Done?

A gynecologist, primary doctor, or doctor’s assistant collects a small sample of cervical cells and sends it for evaluation in the laboratory. If any cell is deemed pre-cancerous, further steps including colposcopy is discussed and performed (2).

Although technically, there is nothing wrong with getting a Pap smear, some women and even doctors prefer it to be had on non-bleeding days. This is because a heavy flow may alter the test results. 

Also, it is not comfortable for some women to take the test on their bleeding days. Some women fear spotting as one of the problems in terms of testing with accuracy, but it is not so. 

Sometimes, the doctor may also ask to test for human papillomavirus (HPV) at the same time, as there are incidents of such cases to develop cervical cancer in the next 1-2 years (3).

Other things that can potentially change your pap results are having sex before the test, douching, or using vaginal hygiene products two days before the test.

How is a Pap Smear Done While on Period?

Pap Smear Done While on Period

Below is the procedure of Pap Smear while you are on period-

  1. You will be asked to lie down on your back while on the examination table. 
  2. The doctor will insert a speculum into the vagina. It would be best if you were relaxed during it so that it is easy for both the doctor and you. 
  3. The doctore will quickly swab the cervix and collect cells and mucus. This will be placed in a sealed container and sent to the laboratory for testing (4). 

The doctor may also do a pelvic test during a Pap smear to check for abnormalities. 

If you are on heavy menstruation flow during this time, it may become a bit challenging to perform it quickly and accurately. Also, some gynecologists do not prefer conducting Pap tests during menstruation as there is a risk of false-negative results.

Accuracy of Results if Pap Smear is Done During Menstruation

Though a Pap smear can be done during menstruation, there is still a risk that a false result may be generated due to heavy flow (5). Also, the presence of blood in a Pap smear sample may hide abnormal cervical cells, which may lead to a false-negative result.

However, if you have some urgency and the Pap smear cannot be delayed, then call a doctor for advice. It is generally recommended to conduct a Pap smear done rather than altogether skipping it. 

If you have done a Pap smear during your periods and the results are normal, your doctor may still recommend repeating the test after three years. 

How to Prepare for a Pap Smear If You Are on Your Period

Though it is a better option to do a Pap smear when you are not on your period, your doctor understands that the cycle may alter at any time. In case if you were given a time for Pap smears but got your period immediately before it, talk to the doctor. The doctor may advise you on another date or go ahead with the test if need be.

In case you decide to go ahead with the test, you may consider wearing sanitary napkins during the test time and not using tampons or menstrual cups. Also, you can get rid of the used pad and wear a fresh one before starting the test. After the test, you may consider changing the pad again.


It is possible to conduct a Pap smear despite being on a menstruation cycle. However, there is a risk of false results, especially if the flow is heavy on test day. 

It is essential to treat cervical cancer before pre-cancerous cells grow and develop deep into the cervix or spread to other body parts. You can check your schedule and fix a day and time according to it as there is no thumb rule regarding a Pap smear. 

The critical concern here is to get it done regularly so as to have early detection of cervical cancer if it is there, and get treated on time. In case you unexpectedly start periods on the testing day, consult your doctor and take advice.

Image Source : freepik

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