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Can I Get a Pap Test While on My Period?

Dec 27, 2018
By Kathleen Reutter
Woman with raised eyebrow

Updated December 27, 2018.

If your menstrual flow is heavy, it’s best to wait until after your period has ended to get a Pap test. Menstrual blood can obscure the visibility of the cervical cells collected in the sample, which can lead to inaccurate results.

But if you’re only spotting, “It’s probably fine to have your Pap,” according to One Medical provider Bernadette Donovan, NP. “There’s a chance the test may need to be redone but it’s a small one, so it’s ultimately up to your comfort level.”

If you’re considering rescheduling your Pap, there’s one more consideration: The Pap test guidelines have changed and you may not actually be due for your next test. According to the 2012 guidelines released by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), women between 21 and 65 who have never had an abnormal Pap should receive a Pap test only once every three to five years.

In other words, you may be able to skip the Pap altogether. If you have questions specific to your personal history, we’re happy to help. Please call our office and we’ll connect you with a member of our medical team.

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Kathleen Reutter

As a registered nurse on One Medical’s Virtual Medical Team, Kathleen provides care for patients when they are away from our offices, over the phone and via email. She enjoys writing health-related content for patients in her spare time. Kathleen graduated from the University of California, San Francisco and is currently a student in UCSF’s nurse-midwifery and women’s health nurse practitioner program.

The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, a national, modern primary care practice pairing 24/7 virtual care services with inviting and convenient in-person care at over 100 locations across the U.S. One Medical is on a mission to transform health care for all through a human-centered, technology-powered approach to caring for people at every stage of life.

Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice. 1Life Healthcare, Inc. and the One Medical entities make no representations or warranties and expressly disclaim any and all liability concerning any treatment, action by, or effect on any person following the general information offered or provided within or through the blog, website, or app. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.