Pap Smears During My Monthly Cycle?

>> Thursday, September 5, 2013

Bookmark and Share
This question worries more patients coming in for their pelvic exams and pap smears than any other general question we get when they come in for checkup.

Different doctors may have different policies on whether to do pap smears during the menstrual cycle. So if you start your cycle prior to your appointment call your gynecologist‘s office to get advice about rescheduling.

It is a very intimate exam and can be stressful because they worry about having to undress and be examined, and hope it won't hurt or uncomfortable. Hygiene is a big concern. Most of us in this country are very clean, but many women also make sure they have their legs and underarms shaved and all other areas trimmed or waxed, according to personal preference, and a lot of patients feel uncomfortable being examined during their cycle. It is always a patient’s choice to reschedule if she is uncomfortable.

What has changed for doctors? It used to be that if a woman started her cycle she had to reschedule because the pap sample was smeared on a slide and then sprayed with fixative. The pathologist would then have to examine the slide under the microscope. So if there was a lot of blood & mucous it would obscure their ability to see the cervical cells and make a correct diagnosis. Today we obtain the sample exactly the same, but instead of smearing it on a slide the entire sample goes into fluid. Once the pathologist receives it, the bottle is placed upside down in a centrifuge to separates the blood, mucous, and discharge from the cervical cells. Once separated those cells can be placed on a clean slide to be thoroughly examined.

That said it is usually best to reschedule if you are having your period. The pap test is the most effective screening tool for cervical cancer, and hormonal changes that occur during the time of the menstrual cycle can cause cell changes which make it slightly more difficult for the pathologist to interpret the sample. The changes would not be mistaken for cancer, but could cause the pap test to be reported in such a way that a repeat may be needed to clear up the confusion. I'm sure we all agree that one pap test a year is enough! So why go through that trouble and worry.

The best time during the cycle for a pap test is, day 10 to day 20 if possible. Day one is the very 1st day that blood is seen, even if it starts as spotting. You should also stay away from vaginal intercourse, douching, tampons, vaginal foams and jellies, vaginal inserts, and any sprays or deodorants 48 hours prior to the appointment. These can interrupt an accurate reading of the sample.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Post a Comment

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by 2009

Back to TOP