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What Are the Causes of Bleeding After a Pap Smear?

author image R. Y. Langham, Ph.D.
R. Y. Langham served as a senior writer for "The Herald" magazine from 1996-99. Langham holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Fisk University, a Master of Science in marriage and family therapy from Trevecca Nazarene University and a Ph.D in family psychology from Capella University. Dr. R.Y. Langham published her first psychological thriller in September 2011. It can be purchased on, Barnes& and
What Are the Causes of Bleeding After a Pap Smear?
What causes a woman to bleed after a pap smear?
Medically Reviewed by
Kenneth R. Hirsch

It is natural to have a few drops of blood following a pap smear. The Center for Young Women’s Health states that a woman usually has her first pap smear around 21, unless there is a special risk such as immune problems, HIV disease, early sexual activity or pregnancy. During a pap test, a physician scrapes cells from a woman’s cervix with a scraper in order to identify possible changes in the cervix.

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Excess Cervical Blood

Excess cervical blood can cause bleeding after a pap smear, according to the website Baby Center. Many women experience a surge of blood to their cervix and reproductive organs during or shortly after a pap test. A pap smear can cause the cervix to become extremely irritated and sensitive triggering light bleeding or spotting following the test.

Cervical Scratch

A cervical scratch may contribute to bleeding after a pap test. A woman may experience bleeding after a pap smear when the health care provider scratches or scrapes the delicate lining of her cervix in order to get a small sample of cells from the upper cervix or vagina, notes Dr. Lee Shulman of the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in "Cosmopolitan" magazine. Bleeding that occurs following a pap smear is usually mostly spotting. This type of bleeding tends to stop fairly quickly. If the bleeding increases or clots form, contact your health care professional.

Cervical Polyps

Cervical polyps contribute to bleeding after a pap smear. Cervical polyps consist of smooth, fingerlike growths that extend from the uterus to the cervix. MedlinePlus states that women over the age of 20 are more likely to have cervical polyps than young girls who have not started menstruating. Cervical polyps usually cause bleeding after a pap smear because of an infection, chronic inflammation, increased levels of estrogen or congested cervical vessels, according to the website MD Guidelines. If the woman’s cervical tissues are already irritated at the time of the pap smear, then she may bleed after the test.

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