In the majority of cases, there is no underlying health issue responsible for bleeding after a Pap smear. Therefore, people who experience temporary light bleeding with no other symptoms do not generally need to worry.
The most likely causes of bleeding after a Pap smear include:
During a Pap smear, a healthcare professional takes a small sample of cervical cells to screen for cervical cancer.
Collecting cells from the cervix can cause light bleeding or spotting that may last for 1–2 days.
Bleeding usually happens because the test irritates the cervix rather than because there is anything wrong. For most people, the bleeding stops and does not reoccur.
During pregnancy, the cervix has more blood vessels and increased blood flow. As a result, it bleeds more easily from irritation, even very early in a pregnancy.
As pregnancy progresses, and the weight of the uterus puts pressure on the cervix, the cervix becomes even more prone to bleeding.
A Pap smear may irritate delicate blood vessels and trigger bleeding.
A Pap smear will not cause pregnancy loss, and light bleeding after a Pap smear does not mean that a person is going to have a miscarriage. However, a person should see their doctor if the bleeding gets progressively heavier or causes cramps.
A person who has a Pap smear a few days before their period may notice light spotting after the test, with heavy bleeding following a few days later. This type of bleeding may be coincidental and not a sign of a serious problem.
The typical signs that bleeding after the test is due to the timing of menstruation include:
- spotting a few days before the period is due
- bleeding around the time when the period would usually appear
- the blood flow following the person’s usual bleeding pattern
Less likely reasons for bleeding after a Pap smear include:
Early cervical cancer tends to have few symptoms. However, there may be some abnormal vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods in the early stages of cervical cancer and severe vaginal bleeding in the advanced stages.
Although a Pap smear will not trigger this type of bleeding, it may cause additional bleeding.
People with cervical cancer may experience bleeding:
- between periods
- during or after sex
- during or after exercise
Some people notice bleeding for the first time not because it is new but because they pay closer attention to vaginal symptoms after the Pap smear.
Anyone who develops vaginal bleeding that is inconsistent with their usual pattern or notices any bleeding after menopause should contact a doctor.
A friable cervix means that the cervix is unusually sensitive and prone to irritation.
Many people have a friable cervix with no other symptoms, and they have often not received a diagnosis. Sometimes, a friable cervix happens because of a disease that irritates the blood vessels in the cervix.
Some medical conditions that can cause a friable cervix include:
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