OBJECTIVE: To ascertain whether the presence of genital infection adversely affects smear quality. METHOD: A prospective study of all patients having cytology performed. The presence of genital infection was recorded and compared with the smear result. RESULTS: The presence of genital infection was not associated with inadequate cytology. Inflammatory changes were found in association with symptomatic candidiasis, trichomoniasis, Chlamydia trachomatis infection, primary herpes simplex, and the finding of 21-30 polymorphs per high power field (averaged over 10 fields) on cervical samples. Inadequate cytology was significantly associated with the smear taker. CONCLUSION: The presence of genital infection at the time of cytology does not increase the rates of inadequacy, and opportunistic cytology should not be deferred as the patient may default from further appointments.
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