Do Pap Smears Test for STDs?

October 3, 2018

When someone asks,”do Pap smears check for STDs?” That may not be their real question. What they may actually wish to ask is,”if my Pap smear came back normal, would I have an STD?”

Many women assume that their doctors are testing them for STDs as part of the annual exam. They might also believe any STDs they may have would show up on a Pap smear.

But, that is not the case. Just because you’re getting a pelvic exam and a Pap smear does not mean that you’re receiving thoroughly tested for STDs. STD testing can be done at precisely the exact same time for a Pap smear. However, those tests require separate samples.

The simplest reply to the inquiry of what STDs Pap smears test to get is,”they do not.” But that’s not necessarily an entirely accurate answer. In general, Pap smears do not test for STDs, and they’re not considered STD tests. Nonetheless, in certain conditions, a Pap smear may include HPV testing on the sample that is removed from the cervix. That is technically a STD test that’s occurring, though it’s arguable whether or not a doctor would believe that to be a part of this Pap smear itself. It’s also feasible that swelling or harm from different STDs could appear on your Pap smear. However, individuals will not be diagnosed with STDs after obtaining a Pap smear.

That requires comprehensive STD screening. Pap smears don’t test for the diseases that should be screened for regularly in sexually active adults for example:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • HIV

Pap smears also don’t test for other STDs that people may be concerned about. Some common STDs where testing fluctuates based on individual risk, are:

  • Syphilis 
  • Herpes.

Sometimes individuals confuse a wet mount with a Pap smear. A wet mount is a slide made from a swab of your vagina that looks for vaginal infections. Wet mounts can yeast infections and other conditions that may readily be identified visually, like BV and trichomoniasis. In contrast, a Pap smear is a part of your cervix that is analyzed by a doctor at a pathology laboratory. Its purpose is solely to find early signs of cervical cancer. Neither a Pap smear or a wet bracket will identify most common STDs.

When you’re requesting”does a Pap smear test for STDs?” Are you asking”if I get an STD test?” In that case, the Solution is no and yes, respectively.   A Pap smear during a gynecological exam is no substitute for comprehensive STD testing.  If you are sexually active, rather than in a mutually monogamous relationship which started with negative evaluations, you should get screened for STDs on a regular basis. That requires urine tests and blood tests. You can’t just hope something will be observed on your Pap. 

Pap Smears and STD Tests: The Controversy over Timing

Pap smear guidelines have shifted to generate the cervical cancer screening test required less frequently. Therefore this question about the relationship between Pap smears and STD tests has become much more important.

If a woman is going to get an STD test it normally does happen at precisely the same time as her Pap. Therefore, fewer women are getting regularly tested for STDs, because Pap smears are needed less often. There is a possibility for that to cause substantial long-term problems, Undetected chlamydia (and other) infections may result in pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.​​

It’s a issue for men. They often don’t get tested at all unless they are either proactive or symptomatic. Common wisdom states that is because the medical system is much more proactive about protecting women’s fertility than it’s about sexual wellbeing for everybody.

What could be done? In an ideal world, primary care doctors would offer sexual health screening as part of adults’ yearly examinations. Now that many STD tests don’t require physical assessments, the obstacles to this have been lowered. Unfortunately, that is not likely to occur as a matter of routine. Until it does, if you would like STD screening, then you’ll need to ask for it.