What Does it Mean if I Bleed After a Pap Smear?

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

Should I worry if I bleed a little bit after my Pap smear? Also, what happens if blood is found in the results?

Doctor's response

There are really two parts to your question, one regarding bleeding as a result of the Pap smear process, and the other regarding the analysis of pap smears that have blood in them.

Bleeding is extremely common after Pap smears, due to the tiny brush scraping the delicate lining of the cervix. This type of bleeding does not result in any damage and will stop on its own. However, if the bleeding is directly related to the Pap smear, the expected bleeding should be light, mostly experienced as spotting, and should quickly resolve. If it does not, it requires further evaluation.

Regarding the analysis of Pap smears that have blood in them, a good pathology lab will comment on whether there was too much blood to properly analyze the smear. If the pathologist feels there is too much blood to give an accurate reading, he or she will say so directly in the report. Therefore, the real issue is not whether there is blood, but actually whether the blood is too extensive to interfere with the reading. Different doctors will have different practices regarding sampling during menstrual bleeding. Many doctors will not have patients reschedule a Pap smear if the woman is in the later days of her menstrual period, when there is not much bleeding.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care


"Screening for cervical cancer"

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Reviewed on 6/19/2017