Is a smear test safe in pregnancy?
Most women from the age of 25 to 49 will have a smear test every three years, but if it’s due when you’re expecting, can it interfere with your pregnancy?
The cervical smear test programme is critical, as it is a well-evidenced screening approach to keeping in check the risks of women developing cervical cancer.
Most women from the age of 25 to 49 will have a smear test every three years, and then from 50 to 64 will best tested every five years. A small number continue to have them beyond 65 years.
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. Instead, if you are planning to get pregnant you could ask your GP to bring the test date forward, before you conceive. If you are already pregnant when you get your reminder, you test will usually be postponed until three months after you have had your baby.
If you get a reminder letter, just call them and remind or inform them that you are currently pregnant. They can then amend their records accordingly.
It’s important not to just ignore the appointment letter.
If you have had an abnormality at a previous smear test
A range of abnormalities can be picked up from a regular 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 you have had an abnormality in a previous test, you may need to be screened while you are pregnant. It can be done at the first antenatal appointment and it will not affect your pregnancy or put it at risk.
If you do have a smear test when you are expecting and the result shows an abnormality, don’t panic. Just as before, when you were not expecting, the abnormality could be all kinds of things and does not necessarily mean cancer. You might need to have a colposcopy, which takes a closer look at your cervix. It might not feel very comfortable but it is perfectly safe.
If any further checks or treatment is required, your GP will plan this with your pregnancy in mind and most likely advise that treatment is delayed until after you have had your baby.
If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to discuss these with your GP.