I need to make an appointment for my cervical screening test. Are you up to date with yours? When I was a GP, a patient asked me if she was OK to go for a run straight after her smear test. I wasn’t a runner at that point and had never been asked that question before. It’s one of those questions that it’s hard to find an answer to. Can you workout straight after cervical screening?

In most situations there’s no reason why you can’t go to your appointment in your running kit and run home straight after you’ve had your smear. There are just a few things to bear in mind:

Post-test bleeding

When the sample of cells is taken from your cervix, it’s done using a small plastic brush, it’s gentle but occasionally, because the surface of the cervix can be delicate, you may experience a small amount of bleeding afterwards. This is usually only a small amount of spotting of blood. Pop a panty liner into your knickers so you have a little protection on your run in case this happens.

Post-test pain

Most women have no pain or only a mild discomfort when they have their smear taken. It depends on the sensitivity of the cervix which is a very individual thing. Any discomfort is usually short-lived. If you do experience any period-type pain then it probably won’t be severe enough to stop you running. If you are getting more severe cramps you might feel more comfortable walking rather than running.

Post-test faintness

Very occasionally, a procedure which touches the cervix can trigger a ‘vasovagal response’. Stimulation of the vagus nerve can make you feel light headed, sweaty and dizzy. It lowers your blood pressure and can make you faint. This is more common during procedures such as having an IUD inserted or a biopsy of the cervix than it is during a smear test, but it does happen occasionally. If this happens to you, it’s advisable not to run straight after your test. You will need a little time to sit or lie down to recover. Postpone your run, have something to eat and drink and see how you feel later on in the day.

There are more answers to questions like this in my book Run Well: Essential health questions and answers for runners. Published by Bloomsbury and available to buy now. 

Featured image: Sophie Janotta from Pixabay

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