Can a smear test create the risk of miscarriage?
Most women from the age of 25 to 49 will have a smear test every three years, but will it interfere with your pregnancy?
Because of a previous abnormality, it’s been recommended that I have a smear test at my first antenatal appointment. I’m terrified this will create the risk of a miscarriage – is it really necessary?
The cervical smear test programme is critical, as it is a well-evidenced screening approach. Most women from the age of 25 to 49 will have one every three years, and then from 50 to 64 will have it every five years. A small number continue to have them beyond 65 years.
A range of abnormalities can be picked up from this screening; most simply require monitoring, but others may need interventions and treatments. One of these is to go for a colposcopy where the cervix, the opening to the womb, is examined and, if necessary, treated.
Changes are looked for to ensure that any signs that may lead to cancer are dealt with early. If the test is a routine one, in many cases it will not be done in pregnancy as the results are more difficult to interpret. But if there’s been an abnormality in a previous test, it’s not unusual that the date for a repeat test falls in pregnancy, and it can be done at the first antenatal appointment, as in your case. I believe the evidence is that this will not interfere with your pregnancy.
Talk this through with your doctor or practice nurse and they will reassure you, because if you have had an abnormal test, it is important that you follow advice and have a follow-up test.
Dr Peter Ilves