News / 

Oral Contraceptives Linked to Pap Smear Results

Save Story
Leer en espaƱol

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

A new study says women on the pill who have a particular type of pap smear are much more likely to get a bad report.

Getting a pap smear-- it's our most effective tool in fighting cervical cancer. But it's not a perfect test. There are false negatives where a problem is missed, and false positives were there's really nothing wrong at all.

UC San Francisco's Dr. George Sawaya says women who take the pill are more likely to have a false positive test.

"It could be due to the fact that women who are on birth control pills are not using barrier contraceptive methods like condoms or diaphragms and that could increase the risk or it could be something inherent about the pill, we're not quite sure."

Well now a new study in the journal Cancer Cytopathology says for women on the pill, the odds of getting a false positive are even greater if they have a thin prep pap smear, a liquid-based technique.

Dr. Sawaya isn't convinced. He says the study is flawed. In a sense it compared apples to oranges.

"I mainly think the study is flawed because the control group they used is really not the appropriate control group they used is really not the appropriate control group. We don't really know what the outcomes were in women who were not taking birth control pills who were screened with liquid bsed cytology who had this same abnormality. So it is very hard to make a comparison between the group that were on birth control pills."

He believes the two major techniques used here in the U.S.-- conventional paps, and the newer liquid based paps such as thinprep-- are equally effective.

"The U.S. preventive services task force, which is a governmnental sponsored agency made a very strong statement in January of this year that the evidence was not strong enough for them to recommend one screening method over another screening method."

The take home message-- don't let this latest study discourage you from getting screened.

If you're sexually active, you need to have regular pap smears.

Women who are sexually active, who are at risk of acquiring human papilloma virus which is thought to be the major cause of cervical cancer, need to be screened regularly.

Most recent News stories


Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast