5 questions answered about smear tests and pregnancy

It’s not something you generally think about when trying for a baby, but what happens if your smear test letter arrives through the letterbox while expecting or breastfeeding? We take a look at what you should do…

Why do I need a smear test?

Cervical screening, or a smear test, looks for for changes in the cells of the cervix (neck of the womb). Changes are common enough; a smear test can pick up early changes so they can be either treated or monitored. The earlier any abnormality is picked up, the easier they are to treat. Early detection and treatment of changes can prevent cervical cancer. Women aged between 25 and 60 who have ever been sexually active should have regular smear tests, continuing after the menopause. If you have never been sexually active, then your risk is smaller and you may decide to turn down the invitation for a test for the moment.

If you are not currently sexually active, but have had partners of either sex in the past, then you should attend for smear tests. According to CervicalCheck, evidence to date indicates there is no additional public health benefit in screening women under the age of 25, as although minor changes are common, invasive cancer is extremely rare among this section of the population. If you’re not sure if you should have a test, contact CervicalCheck on Freephone 1800 45 45 55.

I’m trying for a baby; should I have my smear test?

If you are not pregnant, then you should attend your smear test as usual. According to CervicalCheck, occasionally women may have slight bleeding after having a smear test in pregnancy, but a smear test will not increase the risk of miscarriage. If you are registered with CervicalCheck, you can check when your next smear test is due. Alternatively, on the website, www.cervicalcheck.ie, you can fill in your PPS number and date of birth to find out when your next test is due.

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If I’m called for my smear test and I’m pregnant, should I do it?

If you receive your regular letter calling you for your smear test and you’re pregnant, opt to delay the test until three months after you give birth. To do this, called the CervicalCheck Freephone number on 1800 45 45 55 and explain why you need to defer.

My last smear test was not normal. Will this affect my pregnancy?

A previous smear test that had a “not normal” result will not affect your pregnancy. If a repeat test is due, discuss with your doctor or nurse as to whether you should proceed with it or wait.A smear test can be done safely during pregnancy and is usually taken in the second trimester (weeks 13-26). If you have been recommended to attend a colposcopy you should attend your appointment. Again, if you need more information, simply discuss with your medical team. .

Do I need to have a smear test after having a baby or a miscarriage?

Unless you are due a test as normal, you do not need a smear test after giving birth. If you have suffered a miscarriage and due a regular test, wait three months before having one. Again, if you have had a miscarriage, you do not need a smear test unless you are due one.

For more information on smear tests and cervical screening, see www.cervicalcheck.ie