Bleeding After a Pap Smear

A Pap smear raleigh north carolina is a routine screening procedure which is used to detect the presence of cervical cancer. Pap smears, or Pap tests, are also able to identify the presence of abnormal cells. Abnormal cells can be caused by precancerous conditions or sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

When performing a Pap smear, the doctor will collect a sample of cells from the cervix.

During a pelvic exam, a speculum is used to widen the opening of the vagina. The speculum instrument helps the doctor examine the upper vagina and cervix. A scraper or brush is used to collect a sample of cells from the cervix and sent to a lab for analysis.

While Pap smears can be slightly uncomfortable, they should not cause significant pain. It is also possible for patients to experience cramping or slight bleeding after the screening. Heavy bleeding or severe cramping, however, is not normal and should be reported to the doctor as it could indicate another issue. This article will review common causes for bleeding following a Pap smear.

Bleeding or Spotting

A small amount of bleeding or spotting following a Pap smear procedure is quite possible. Although heavier bleeding can be a sign of another issue.

To obtain a sample of cells, the doctor scrapes or scratches the thin lining of the cervix. This can cause some bleeding. Bleeding from a cervical scratch, however, is usually minimal and only lasts a few hours.

Following a Pap smear and pelvic exam, blood surges to the cervix and other reproductive organs. As a result, there can be increased bleeding from an irritated spot or scratch.

Blood Vessels

For patients who are pregnant when receiving a Pap smear, there may be more bleeding than normal following the test. During pregnancy, the cervix naturally develops additional blood vessels which often bleed following a test. The bleeding should stop within a few hours.

Birth Control

For patients who take birth control pills or other forms of hormonal contraception, the hormone levels are increased. This can increase the sensitivity of the cervix and can result in cramping or pain. Birth control can make it more common to bleed following a Pap smear.


Sexually transmitted infections and yeast infections can also cause cervical bleeding after a Pap smear. These types of infections can increase the tenderness within the cervix, and the blood vessels may be more likely to bleed.

Cervical Cancer

One of the most common symptoms of cervical cancer is vaginal bleeding which is irregular. This type of bleeding typically comes from the cervix. Any disruption or disturbance to the cervical tissues, which may include a Pap smear, can result in additional bleeding.

It is quite common for patients to experience light bleeding or spotting after a Pap smear. More severe bleeding and cramping is less common and may suggest there is a bigger issue present. Symptoms which can be concerning include the following:

  • Bleeding for more than three days
  • Bleeding more than normal
  • Bleeding which is heavy and requires more than one pad in a single hour
  • Dark blood which contains clots or bright red blood
  • Increased bleeding after the exam
  • Severe cramping

Irregular bleeding can be one of the common signs of cervical cancer. Bleeding after a Pap smear, however, can be a symptom of various issues, which can include an infection, STI, or pregnancy. Patients should not assume that if they experience unusual bleeding following a Pap smear means they have cancer. Always discuss any concerning symptoms right away with your doctor.

What is a Pap Smear and How is it Done?