Pap tests during pregnancy not recommended in UK

The National Health Service (NHS), the UK’s biggest health website, recommends waiting until at least 12 weeks after giving birth to have a pap test. Pap tests during pregnancy are not recommended because according to the NHS pregnancy can make the result of the test harder to interpret and could be inaccurate (source).

The NHS deserves kudos for putting the health and safety of women and their unborn children ahead of opportunistic testing. Unfortunately this is not the case in other countries. Even though pregnancy can make it harder to get clear results, other countries are still recommending pap tests during pregnancy. WebMD, the most popular source of health information in the US, recommends having a pap test during pregnancy as part of “routine tests” that are “important for your health and your unborn baby’s health” (source).

In Canada, the Canadian Cancer Society states that a “Pap test done as part of routine care during pregnancy can find cervical cancer” (source).  The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advise that “pregnant women can be reassured that a Pap smear does not cause any problems for their pregnancy” (source).

Anecdotal evidence aligns with recommendations of the NHS to not have a pap test during pregnancy, but for different reasons.  According to some anecdotal evidence there may be a correlation between pap smears and miscarriage, and other evidence suggests pap tests during pregnancy may risk  disturbing the mucous plug and lead to premature labor.

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  1. There is definitely a correlation between pap tests and miscarriage. I had a miscarriage 24 hours after a pap test. The NHS tried to deny it and I wasn’t able to get anywhere with my claim. Funny how they sneaked this one in. That’s the NHS all over slyly change something then deny all responsibility of wrong doing.

  2. Find some manufacturers if cervical brush and collection devices and see if they state “do not use during pregnancy”.

    Here is one. Thinprep test by Mater pathology. The brochure clearly states “do not use endocervical during pregnancy”. At least this company is honest giving a warning but how many doctors would actually read the brochure and make sure a woman was not pregnant before ding a pap test?

  3. Finally. Amazing how docs can lecture husbands/fathers & moms/wives what they can & can’t do. But to risk a pregnancy by pap? This article did tell the truth. But it was light on facts. Don’t want us to actually begin thinking about the bullshit they put us through. As if they go deeper into the truth we’ll rebel like the 13 Colonies did. We should.
    I know a woman who had pap early into her pregnancy and miscarried. Those women who have pap during pregnancy report it’s extremely painful. And then they feel their fetus has died. And then they have a horrible period where they clear the debris. Doctors? “Whoops.” If you get that much care out of them…
    The reason, as I’ve said, why companies that make “brushes” used during pap say NOT to use their products? Some of them, particularly those “patient friendly” brushes, have steel or brass bristles embedded in with the nylon ones. These will strip your mucus plug. They will also infect you with HPV if you already have it on the surface. Think how the small pox vaccine is administered. That’s about the same thing done to your cervix…
    The other problem is this. During adolescence, pregnancy, menopause, even during your monthly cycle, your cervix’ cells morph.
    For the computer that’s trying to read your slide, it’s confusing. That’s why they always want you to pap at the same time in your cycle each exam.
    So if the computer is only able to reach 53% effectiveness at best (per what Trovagene told me plus what I read out of UC Berkely med text) then imagine how much worse the computer and docs are at scoring pap during pregnancy.
    How many women have we read about having regular paps and then “suddenly” discovering during her pregnancy she’s full of CC? And we know how that disaster in the making ends. A life, a reproductive lifetime, good sex, all wasted and gone thanks to dumb f’ing doctors and their tests.

  4. Yeah i heard about all of that too and once i got pregnant i was like hell no! I politely told my midwife that i opted out of paps since hubby and i were complete virgins and my chances of getting CC are like getting hit by lightning. If my cervix is holding the baby in why mess with it?? Although it wont be holding her much longer now 🙂 we’re 36wks and i think shes getting impatient…

  5. Simple explanation. In countries with nationalised and semi-nationalised medicine (like Australia), the medical system is used as a means of mass surveillance. In countries with privatised medicine it is used as a means of making huge bucks.

    So, the former wants to “capture” as many people and data as possible, regardless of long-term harm. The latter will lie through its teeth to get the “customer” and the money. After all, people only pay for something if they believe it will solve a problem. Therefore, if you want to sell more stuff than there are problems, you have to trick people into believing there are problems where there are none.

    • K. The US system allows BOTH mass surveillance while making a ton of profit. While the corporate and profit-based US healthcare system lies and coerces by threatening to withhold actual healthcare if a woman is not “up to date” on her paps, the info collected at that time has DATABASE written all over it – all of the irrelevant questions about “At what age was your first period” “When was your last period” (post-menopause), “How many sexual partners have you had?” are just to put more information together. Then they can SELL that information to researchers and those providing data to researchers. That includes selling it to governmental agencies for any purpose.

      Sure, it will “solve a problem”. The problem it solves are the scare tactics they use, and the “no risk” to testing speech they give. If that doesn’t work, the problem it solves is allowing access to actual medical care for real health problems – whether chronic or acute. Although I know that there is nothing they can find in a pelvic exam that will help me in any way, I’ve been tempted to allow it JUST TO BE TREATED FOR DIABETES. I quickly talked myself out of that because if it comes back abnormal, they will press even harder for me to have follow-on treatments and surgeries which are completely out of the question for me. When I go back in a few months, I expect to have them focus on my reproductive system rather than any actual problems. In fact, I’ve got something that appears to be tendonitis now. It causes a lot of pain. However, I’ve chosen to treat it at home and not see a doctor because I don’t want to face an attempted rape and NOT get treatment for the problem anyway until a later visit. I’ve heard of that happening if a woman presents at the ER with clear signs of a heart attack – “When was your last pap?” before they take any action regarding the chest pains or shortness of breath. (sigh) And, then they try to figure out why it is that women are less likely to survive their first heart attack than men are, or why they get less treatment for them.

  6. “If indicated, a woman can be safely referred to colposcopy during pregnancy. It’s unlikely that a biopsy or treatment would be recommended when pregnant, but a colposcopic assessment can exclude the presence of invasive cervical cancer and provide reassurance.

    The cervibroom is the recommended sampling instrument for all routine screening and screening during pregnancy. Cytobrushes are not to be used. While endocervical cells may not be sampled during pregnancy, this is not a cause for concern if there have been no previous glandular abnormalities.

    Once the woman has given birth, cervical screening should be delayed for three months. When cervical screening is performed in the postnatal period, low levels of oestrogen associated with breastfeeding may make the collection or interpretation of the cervical sample unsatisfactory. If this occurs, consider the application of local oestrogen cream or pessaries.”

    From our disingenuous Cervical Screening Programme in New Zealand. I love the bit about a colposcopy, when pregnant, providing reassurance!!

    • It could well provide reassurance while pregnant to do a colposcopy.

      Women have been groomed and trained to fear cervical cancer will pop up at any time, and kill them within months or a year or two without warning. A woman who is joyfully pregnant, now has had the dreaded “abnormal pap”, and she is all but sure that she will not live to see her child’s first steps. The colposcopy thus “reassures” her that she won’t have an early death, rather than spending her pregnancy brooding about her impending death, leaving that infant motherless.

      It seems that it would be better to not do the pap and have her enjoy her pregnancy, as she can, and the first years of motherhood – but OH NO! I’m convinced this whole thing is a misogynistic way of ruining the lives, health, and sexuality, removing the joy of being alive for many women.

  7. Beth, I agree, so many women have a poor quality of life because of this testing, whether it’s the dread of testing, the trauma and fear associated with an abnormal result, colposcopy, biopsy or a treatment. The teenagers who live in fear of their first well woman exam, that’s still happening in Germany and in some other countries.
    These programs often seem to maximise the risk of a false positive too, we broke every rule here, testing from 18, some were tested even younger, then 2 yearly until 70, condemning most women to a “treatment”…almost all of this damage was pointless and avoidable.

    Now we do hpv testing from 25, when the evidence couldn’t be clearer, don’t do hpv testing before 30! Our program was so excessive though, and lucrative for vested interests, they couldn’t jump from 18 to 30, that would have caused a panic and prompted some women to look very closely at this program so they settled on 25…then 5 yearly hpv testing until 72, that is too much testing.
    So I have to conclude that misogynistic attitudes shape these programs, the relentless thirst to control and abuse women.

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