Is Cramping After Cervical Check Normal?

Is Cramping After Cervical Check Normal?

Regular cervical checks are essential for maintaining your reproductive health as a woman. While these exams are vital for detecting potential issues, they can sometimes cause discomfort and cramping afterward. Knowing that this cramping is common can help you understand what to expect, why it happens and when it might be a concern. 

Learn more about what happens during a cervical check, what tools, like a vaginal speculum, are used and how to minimize cramping after the procedure. 

What is a Cervical Check?

Cervical checks are done as part of your routine pelvic exam to help check the health of your reproductive organs. During the procedure, you lay down on the exam table and place your feet into supports called stirrups. Your medical provider performs a visual check of your vagina and cervix using gloved fingers and a speculum tool.

Cervical checks typically include a Pap smear, where your doctor swabs a few cells from the cervix using a small medical brush or spatula. They send these cervical cells to a lab, where you’ll be screened for cervical cancer, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and human papillomavirus (HPV). This helps identify abnormal cells and ensure timely treatment for any health conditions. 

How Often Do You Need a Pelvic Exam?

Many women schedule a routine pelvic exam every few years; how often you need a pelvic exam depends on your age, reproductive health and individual risk factors. Typically, it is recommended that women start getting regular pelvic exams at age 21 or earlier if they are sexually active. 

The general guideline is to have a pelvic exam every three years, but some conditions might require more frequent monitoring. Always consult with your healthcare provider to determine the right schedule for you.

Cramping After a Cervical Check: Understanding the Cause

It’s common to experience cramping after a cervical check, which can be uncomfortable but is usually mild and not a cause for concern. Knowing why these cramps occur can help you manage discomfort and ease your worries.

  • Cervical sensitivity. The cervix is a sensitive area and touching or manipulating it during an exam can cause involuntary muscle contractions, which can result in cramps.
  • Use of a speculum. Some cramping may be due to how a speculum works during an exam. The tool called a speculum, which is a metal or plastic device inserted into the vagina to allow better visualization of the cervix, can stretch the vaginal walls and irritate the cervix. Inserting the speculum can cause reflexive cramping as the muscles respond to the expansion.

Using a slim, medical-grade polymer speculum like the Nella can help minimize cramps after a cervical check. This speculum is temperature-neutral and the size of a tampon, which means it’s less likely to irritate your cervix and vaginal walls. This can lessen irritation and post-exam cramping. 

  • Sampling for tests. Procedures like a Pap smear involve scraping cells from the cervix. This action, although gentle, irritates the cervix and may lead to cramping as the body reacts to the perceived injury.
  • Muscle tension. Anxiety or discomfort during the exam can cause you to tense your pelvic muscles, which might increase cramping sensations post-procedure. Understanding how to prepare for your Pap smear and relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation can reduce discomfort and anxiety.

Managing Cramping After a Cervical Check

If you experience cramping after a cervical exam, you can do a few things to minimize the discomfort. Here’s what your doctor may recommend: 

  • Over-the-counter pain relief. Use OTC medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help relieve mild discomfort and inflammation.
  • Apply heat. A heating pad or a warm towel on your abdomen can help relax muscle spasms and relieve cramping.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking water can help reduce bloating, which might worsen cramping sensations.
  • Rest. Sometimes, simply resting and allowing your body to recover can alleviate post-exam discomfort.

Post-Exam Discomfort: When to Seek Further Guidance

While most cramping after a cervical exam is mild and temporary, certain symptoms can signal a need for further medical attention. If you notice the following symptoms, speak with your OB/GYN as soon as possible: 

  • Severe or worsening pain. Intense cramping that escalates and isn’t relieved by typical pain management methods, like over-the-counter painkillers, might indicate trauma to the cervix or an underlying condition that needs medical attention. 
  • Additional symptoms. If you notice unusually heavy bleeding, major changes in vaginal discharge or a foul-smelling odor, these could be signs of an infection or a tear. Visit your provider for a check-up and follow-up care. 
  • Fever or chills. A fever or the onset of chills following a cervical check might indicate an infection requiring antibiotics or other immediate treatments. Monitor your temperature; if it doesn’t get better or reaches 103℉ or higher, visit an emergency medical provider. 

Get the Nella Speculum for Your Next Cervical Check

Minimizing discomfort and irritation during a cervical check can help you minimize or avoid cramping after the exam. The Nella speculum is a modern version of the standard pelvic exam tool, designed to make cervical checks as non-invasive as possible. 

With its slim silhouette, softer materials and temperature-neutral features, it can reduce the impact on your vaginal wall and cervix during an exam, so you experience less cramping. Order Nella today for your next pelvic exam or speak with your provider about using the Nella in their practice.
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