A Pap smear helps stay on the lookout for abnormal cells in the cervix that may later turn out cancerous. The risks of these cells to the developing fetus in pregnant women have not yet gotten proven. Since this procedure proves essential in all women, getting it done during pregnancy doesn’t put your pregnancy at risk for miscarriage.
A Pap smear or Pap test helps check for abnormal cells in your cervix to help detect or prevent cervical cancer.
Over the years, a Pap smear has shown to be a sure way to help prevent cervical cancer in most women. Also, early detection of cancerous cells helps one get early treatment, thus saving lives.
Doctors recommend getting a Pap smear at 21 years and after every three years to help prevent cancer.
Also, getting a Pap test three years after getting sexually active proves essential in the fight against women’s cervical and reproductive system cancers.
So if you want to know if it’s safe to take a Pap smear during pregnancy, keep reading this article.
What happens in a Pap test? Is it safe for pregnant women?
The Pap smear test takes place in a doctor’s office, and the whole procedure may take twenty to thirty minutes.
The following steps describe the entire process if you visit your doctor for a Pap test:
- You undress from the waist down.
- The doctor/nurse requires you to lie flat on a patient’s bed
- You spread out your legs by letting your feet rest on the stirrups
- The doctor/nurse places a sheet over your thighs
- The doctor uses a speculum and lubricants to open up the cervix. The speculum goes into the vagina, and the medical practitioner opens it up, revealing the cervix.
- The doctor uses a spatula or small medical brush and obtains a swab from the cervix.
- The swab contains sample cervical cells used to conduct the cancer screening procedure.
- You may experience discomfort as the cervix gets opened, although it lasts for a short time.
This procedure proves safe during pregnancy and will not affect the nature of your pregnancy. Some doctors recommend a routine Pap smear procedure for pregnant women during prenatal care.
This requirement means that Pap smears remain safe medical procedures even for pregnant women.
The US center for disease control and prevention has reported few women cancer deaths since Pap smears became a routine procedure for women.
Most women don’t get checked regularly, so performing Pap tests for pregnant women increases the chances of most women ever doing one.
So, if you get a Pap smear during pregnancy, it doesn’t cause any risk to your pregnancy or unborn child.
What does a Pap test detect?
The Pap test checks for changes in the cervical cells that may put you at risk of cervical cancer if left untreated.
During this procedure, the doctor also tests for HPV (human papillomavirus), which causes cervical cell changes. This HPV test proves essential in a Pap smear.
Can a Pap smear cause miscarriage?
The biggest fear among pregnant women remains the fear of miscarriages.
Most people fear that opening up the cervix may cause early labor or even put them at risk of miscarriage.
Although, you should not worry since a Pap smear has no direct link to early miscarriages.
Implantation happens high up in the uterus, and cervical observation during a Pap smear doesn’t interfere with it.
You may get some slight cramping and spotting after the test, but not to cause a miscarriage. The cervix proves sensitive during pregnancy, so spotting should not be a cause for alarm.
During pregnancy, you also have thick mucus membrane protection above the cervix that keeps the pregnancy safe.
So, even the cases of low uterus implantation, it proves impossible to affect the pregnancy.
Even if people miscarried after a pap test, it could be a coincidence but not in any way linked with each other.
You should see a doctor if you experience signs of miscarriage before or after a pap smear.
So what after a Pap smear?
After a pap smear, the test results will determine the way forward.
If the results are negative for abnormal cells, you go home and wait for the next pap smear test. This next visit happens three to five years after the pap smear procedure.
If the results of abnormal cervical cells are positive, the doctor suggests a second pap smear test called colposcopy.
Colposcopy also proves safe during pregnancy. In this second test, the doctor looks at the cervix more closely.
If the colposcopy reveals severe signs of cancer, you may undergo surgery to remove the abnormal cells. If it doesn’t indicate a severe cervical condition, you may undergo a colposcopy within a year after the first one.
By this time, you will have given birth.
If the cells prove cancerous after a year, you may undergo a surgical procedure to remove them.
Waiting for a year does not harm since cervical cancer has proven to be a slowly progressive disease.
To answer the question in our discussion, you may refuse a pap smear during pregnancy if you have concerns.
In most cases, discussing your concerns with your doctor proves helpful since your doubts get eliminated, thus getting the test.
If you have never had a pap test, it proves essential to have it before, during, and even after your pregnancy.
What are the benefits of a Pap smear test?
- Pap smear gives you peace of mind. After knowing that you don’t have to worry about developing cervical cancer, you feel peaceful. Even after detecting the abnormal cells early, starting treatment grants you hope and peace of mind.
- Early detection leads to early treatment. Cancer is one of the leading causes of most human death, and having it detected early makes it easy to treat and prevent future occurrences. Pap smear makes this early detection and treatment possible.
- Pap smear helps prevent cancer. If the abnormal cells have not turned out cancerous yet, treating them helps prevent cancer.
- Pap smear prevents cancer from spreading.
- If you get early treatment intervention for cancer, the risk of spreading becomes less, and early intervention saves your life.
Can you skip Pap smears during pregnancy?
If the doctor finds your concerns legitimate, you can skip pap smears. It also depends on your willingness to undergo a pap test, but it proves very beneficial to go ahead with it.
Do they do a Pap smear at the first prenatal clinic?
Performing a Pap test depends on the requirements of different hospitals. It doesn’t affect your pregnancy negatively if you get requested to undergo one.
How do you decline a Pap smear?
Talk to your attending doctor or nurse if you have already started the procedure and no longer want it to continue. Request them to stop, reschedule, slow down or ask for a break.
Getting a Pap smear will remain essential whether pregnant, before, or after the pregnancy.
Therefore, you should not fear getting one since it keeps you safe from contracting cervical cancer, which kills most women annually.
If your pap smear results have a normal curve, you might postpone until after your pregnancy.
Always voice your concerns about pap smears with your doctor for proper guidance.