Women who are 30 or older can wait five years between Pap tests if the procedure is combined with testing for HPV.
Many women schedule their gynecological exam several months in advance. During that time, your menstrual cycle might be pretty predictable or utterly irregular. Because of this, you may or may not end up being on your period when it comes time for the visit. So, is it okay to get a Pap smear while on your period?
Pap smear procedure: how and when you should do it
The Pap test has been used to detect cervical cancer for more than 75 years and is usually performed during an annual OB-GYN exam. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend every sexually active woman to have a pelvic examination to rule out different medical conditions including cancer. This is especially important for women over the age of 30, since they are at a higher risk.
The majority of cervical cancer cases are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). This is a common virus that can be transmitted through intercourse and is considered a standard sexually transmitted infection. Most women that have been exposed to HPV do not have any symptoms, and it can go undetected for a long time before any symptoms become apparent.
During the exam with your gynecologist, the doctor will perform a pelvic exam and collect cells from your cervix. This sample is then sent off to a laboratory for testing. Typically, this only needs to be done once every few years unless you are experiencing unexplained symptoms or have an abnormal result from the laboratory testing. If this is the case, your doctor will have you come back in for a follow-up to confirm the findings and determine if additional treatment is necessary.
When you schedule a gynecological exam that includes a Pap smear, most gynecologists will request that you have this exam when you do not have your period. Can you get a PAP smear on your period? Only if it is absolutely necessary, as the results may not be accurate. There are other things that you may need to do (or avoid doing) to prepare for your Pap smear. You should avoid douching; intercourse; and any vaginal medicines or spermicidal foams, creams, or jellies for two days before a Pap smear, as these may wash away or obscure abnormal cells.