Paps smears are routine procedures women over the age of 21 undergo to check for cervical cancer and HPV or human papillomavirus. Though getting an abnormal Pap smear result can be upsetting, it doesn’t necessarily mean cancerous cells are present. To help you better understand this type of screening result, below are answers to several frequently asked questions about abnormal Pap smears.
Common Abnormal Pap Smear Questions
What is an abnormal Pap smear?
It’s a result that may indicate the presence of cervical infection, inflammation, or dysplasia, which are unusual cells that could be pre-cancerous. A common misconception is that these results are a cancer diagnosis or an indicator of cancerous cells. However, this isn’t quite accurate. Abnormal Pap smears alert your doctor that further testing is necessary to determine if you have a potential health problem or not.
What can cause these results?
Several problems may produce an abnormal result. For instance, inflammation from yeast infections, herpes, trichomoniasis, and HPV are just a few common causes. Dysplasia can also affect the result of the screening. However, an abnormal Pap smear is not always caused by a potentially serious issue or sexually transmitted infection. Recent sexual activity can also be a contributing factor.
What happens after you have an abnormal Pap smear?
The next course of action depends on your specific situation. In some cases, your doctor may schedule another screening for a later date. However, they may also conduct further testing for conditions like HPV if you're over 25 or order a colposcopy in which your cervix is examined carefully with a microscope.
Does an abnormal Pap smear mean I’ll need a biopsy?
If your doctor detects the presence of suspicious tissue while examining your cervix during a colposcopy, they may conduct a biopsy, or obtain a small tissue sample to be sent for testing. Though the procedure may feel uncomfortable, it usually doesn’t hurt. If the lab results come back and show no pre-cancerous cells, you may undergo another Pap smear several months later. However, positive or inconclusive results will require follow-up procedures as advised by your doctor.
If you need to discuss your abnormal Pap smear result or another women’s health issue, put your trust in the team at Women’s Wellness Center of New York. As the number one women’s health facility in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Dr. Taraneh Shirazian and her knowledgeable and educated team of doctors and staff carefully work with each patient to diagnose and treat a variety of health issues. Begin advancing your health today by calling (647) 754-3300 to schedule an appointment or visiting their website to learn more.