A Pap smear is a cervical cancer screening. For the most accurate result, you should abstain from sex for two days before the exam. You should also avoid using products on or in your vagina that can impact your results.
Things are getting steamy with your boo when suddenly you remember that you have a Pap smear tomorrow. Does this mean you should pump the breaks on your sex sesh? The answer, unfortunately, is yes. Penetration before a Pap smear exam can lead to inaccurate results.
Here’s everything you need to know about sex before and after a Pap smear exam.
A Pap smear is a cervical cancer screening. It’s performed by collecting cells from the cervix and checking them under a microscope for signs of cervical cancer or precancerous changes.
And sexy times before a Pap smear is not the best idea, according to Michael Green, OB/GYN and Head of Clinical Operations at Winona.
“This is because sexual activity can introduce bacteria and other substances into the vagina making obtaining an accurate Pap smear result more difficult,” Green explains.
He goes on to explain that vigorous sexual activity (of any kind — not just penis-in-vagina) can affect your results. That includes fingering, oral sex, sex toy use, and genital-to-genital grinding.
It’s not advised. Although it may be less, um, jarring than penetrative sex, oral sex can still introduce bacteria that may affect the results of your Pap smear.
Reminder: It’s the same deal with fingers and toys, too.
It’s best to let the sexual tension build for a couple of days (ooh la la).
You should also avoid using any products in your vaginal canal before having a Pap smear.
“If there is any interference from substances introduced during sexual activity it can make it more challenging to get an accurate result,” Green says.
He adds, “Semen or lubricants can obscure the view of the cells and make it more difficult for your doctor to see any abnormalities.”
Green also explains that some of these products can affect the pH balance of the vaginal area, which could affect your results.
So, if you’ve got a Pap smear on your schedule, stop using any of the following two days before your appointment:
- Vaginal creams and medicines
- Spermicidal foams
So, you definitely should put the brakes on sex before your Pap smear. But how far in advance?
“It is generally recommended to abstain from sexual activity for 24 to 48 hours before the test,” Green says.
So here’s to abstinence! (Temporarily and for the sake of an accurate Pap smear result, that is.)
TBH, it’s up to you. But Green says that waiting a little while isn’t a bad idea.
A Pap smear may leave you feeling a little uncomfortable down there, so it’s a good idea to wait until that subsides before you get frisky.
“If you experience bleeding or discomfort after a Pap smear,” Green adds, “it is best to speak with your healthcare provider before engaging in sexual activity. They can provide specific instructions based on your situation and ensure you fully recover from the procedure before resuming sexual activity.”
Here are a few helpful tips to make your next Pap smear go as smoothly as possible:
- Avoid using any products on or in your vagina, including lube
- Abstain from sex for 24-48 hours before your appointment
- Try to schedule it for when you’re not on your period, if possible
At your Pap smear, you’ll need to get undressed from the waist down and put your feet up in stirrups. Not awkward at all, right?
Next, your physician will insert a device called a speculum, which will make it easier to reach your cervix to collect a sample. They’ll take a sample of cells from your cervix using a small brush. This can be uncomfortable, but it should be over very quickly.
Be sure to ask when you can expect your results before you leave.
If your Pap smear reveals signs of cervical cancer or precancerous changes to your cells, this is considered a “positive.” It’s not a reason to panic though, and it doesn’t mean that you have cancer.
After receiving a positive result on your Pap smear, your healthcare provider will guide you through the next steps — which will involve more testing.
A Pap smear is a cervical cancer screening that requires a sample of cells from your cervix. Sexual activity (PIV, oral, fingers, toys, etc.) can affect your results by introducing bacteria or making it difficult to inspect your cells. So, it’s best to close your vagina for business starting two days before your appointment.
Likewise, be sure to abstain from using any products on or in your vagina for two days — including creams, spermicidal foams, lube, and douches.
You can get busy *wink* after your appointment, as soon as you feel ready. Just make sure to follow up with your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing any unexpected bleeding or pain.