Managing Abnormal PAP Smears

This is when a tiny sample of tissue (much smaller than ¼ of the size of a pencil eraser) is removed with an instrument similar to a pair of tweezers. Minor cell changes can disappear without the need for treatment, moderate to severe cell changes are more likely to be an indication of precancerous and could turn into cervical cancer. A speculum is an instrument which enlarges the vaginal opening and spreads the vaginal walls so that your physician can "see what is going on" inside the vagina. Sometimes an ordinary yeast infection will throw off a Pap test result. If you are concerned about experiencing discomfort during your colposcopy, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever before your procedure. If the cause for your abnormal pap smear results from a sexually transmitted infection, you could have symptoms related to the infection, which include: Just like a regular pelvic exam, you’ll lie on an exam table with your legs up so the doctor can position a speculum in your vagina to hold it open and create a clear view of your cervix, which your doctor will examine with the help of a special magnifying lens. HPV is the most common STI (sexually transmitted infection) and in some cases, is linked to cervical cancer.

A Pap smear may be used either alone or along with an HPV molecular test for cervical cancer screening every 5 years for women 30 to 65 years of age. 4% of those without this infection. It is the most common finding. The type or size of the speculum depends on whether the patient is a virgin, has had children or is post-menopausal. A colposcopy will likely be recommended.

Infections can be treated, while the changes that occur with menopause are normal.

Still wearing a glove, your doctor again inserts the index finger into the vagina. Hurst follows the guidelines outlined by the American Society of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology (ASCCP) and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG.) Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side—from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage. HPV and early cervical cancer don’t always cause symptoms. If it helps, here’s how you can try to make a Pap smear as easy as possible on you and your vagina. Our team specializes in diagnosing and treating cervical cancer and can schedule any appropriate tests with or without a physician’s referral. Scanty or short periods, or lack of periods are common side effects.


This is important because these substances can distort the appearance of the cells to be studied in the Pap smear. All women who have been sexually active for 3 years or who have reached age 21 need to have regular Pap smears. Contraceptive and Reproductive Health Issues, 1986, B.

The sample will be placed in a jar that has a preservative liquid inside. If you miss two pills in a row, take two each day for two days; use a back-up method of birth control until you begin your next pill package. Some symptoms of cervical cancer can also be caused by other conditions, like yeast infections. AGC (Atypical Glandular Cells) – This result means that there are changes in the glandular cells of the cervix.

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The removal of samples for study is called biopsy. These cells create mucus and grow inside your uterus and in the opening of your cervix. Your doctor will be able to see your cervix through the magnifying lens. Although you might think an abnormal Pap smear means you have cervical cancer, the fact is that the majority of abnormal Pap smears are not caused by cervical cancer. What causes cervical cells to appear abnormal? You may lose the mucus plug gradually over several days or weeks, and that is normal. The doctor will recommend a colposcopy as a follow-up exam.

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While it may not be the most comfortable of procedures, the Pap smear is definitely worth it: Colposcopy — This is examination of the vagina, cervix, and vulva. What do I do if I miss one of my birth control pills?

Our nurse practitioners use gynecology testing to identify the cause. ” The presence of abnormal cells can lead to any of the following results: The doctor may ask that you have a colposcopy and, depending on the results return to pap smear schedule of every three years, or return in twelve months. There are many types of HPV, including those that cause genital warts, which are sexually transmitted.

Moderate To Severe Cell Changes

What does it mean when my doctor says I have an abnormal Pap test? Then you should have a Pap test at least every 3 years until you are 65. Sometimes the Pap smear can give information about your hormones, especially progesterone and estrogen. If the cells are classified as high grade, there is a greater likelihood that cancer could develop in the near future. However, an annual exam continues to be important for other health reasons, including early detection of possible breast and vulvar cancer. The urge to urinate recurs quickly and soreness may occur in the lower abdomen, back, or sides. Having a colposcopy and treatment can prevent cancer from developing. Older women who have had three consecutive normal Pap smears should have a Pap smear every three years.

Inflammation (irritation). (18) I sometimes leak urine when I sneeze or cough. With the speculum still in place, your physician may also take appropriate smears to determine the presence or absence of vaginal infection. Here are some things you will want to know if your doctor advises you that your Pap test is abnormal, including what to expect next, and what you should do. You have had an abnormal Pap smear in the past.

It can even tell you if you have one of the specific strains (often HPV 16 or 18) that cause cervical cancer, though it won’t say if you have the disease.
  • One of the safest and most effective ways to prevent pregnancy is "the pill."
  • Bacterial vaginosis is caused by bacteria which normally inhabit the vagina, but under certain conditions, begin to overgrow.
  • This is not an indication of a security issue such as a virus or attack.
  • Pain, burning, or itching in your pelvic or genital area when you urinate or have sex.
  • HPV can infect the mouth, throat, cervix, vagina, vulva, anus, and perianal areas.
  • If you had a ThinPrep test, ask your doctor for a reflex HPV test, which uses the cervical cells your doctor already collected to determine if you have HPV.

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Sometimes, abnormal cells are caused by a yeast infection or a bacterial infection, both of which are very treatable. You lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet apart. The majority of abnormal results look that way because of an HPV virus, she adds. An abnormal result simply means that the cells fall outside the normal range and require closer examination. The main symptom is itching of the vagina and surrounding area, accompanied by a thick white, discharge usually having a strong odor. Sometimes special treatments are needed. Not using a condom puts a woman at risk for numerous health risks, and having an abnormal pap smear is one.

The virus often resolves on its own in two years or less without any treatments. We also believe in forming a partnership with each woman and providing education and information. This means they could eventually turn into cancer.

5; and the presence of clue cells (epithelial cells coated with bacteria) in vaginal cultures. It might make you feel better to know that the colposcope is only placed at the outside of your vagina and does not touch you. Most changes in cells which cause an abnormal Pap smear do not cause symptoms. Because cervical cancer often has no symptoms until it becomes advanced, getting screened early is critical.

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If, however, there is no evidence of HPV, you’ll just come back in another year for a repeat Pap test to make sure all is well. It’s the only way to check the cells on your cervix for changes that can lead to cancer. A vaginal infection can be easily treated with an anti-fungal or anti-bacterial medication, depending on the type of infection it is.

Males may harbor these bacteria with no obvious symptoms. Your doctor will examine your vagina and use a swab to get a sample of the discharge. That's definitely not always the case, though. What this means is that your gynecologist will need to perform a further evaluation that could include another Pap smear, a colposcopy (a simple procedure that allows your OBGYN to look into the cervix using a microscope) or a biopsy (to remove and test cervical tissue).

What will you need to do if you have an abnormal Pap test? Usually, the cells look different because you’ve been exposed to HPV, or human papillomavirus — a common sexually transmitted disease. Women who have sex with multiple partners, have sex without condoms, or have sex with one partner who also has other partners are at a higher risk of contracting HPV than women in monogamous sexual relationships. Your annual women’s checkup is an important part of maintaining your health. A pap smear is generally performed on a woman when she reaches the age of 21 unless there are unique health risks involved, such as HIV. The usual treatment for an abnormal Pap smear is called "cryotherapy," which simply means to freeze. What else can cause an abnormal pap smear besides HPV?

  • Depressed or irritable mood.
  • Most women begin getting Pap smears by the time they reach 21 years old.
  • Bacterial vaginosis results from the bacterial balance being out of whack.

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Vaginal crams, douches or tampons. What is an abnormal Pap smear? Continue taking the pill and contact SHS if the bleeding is heavy or prolonged. A view magnifier is used to locate abnormal cells and determine the extent of abnormality. Could my thyroid be to blame? But most are preventable, says Dr.

If you have had a hysterectomy to remove all of the uterus, including the cervix, for reasons other than cancer, you may not need to have Pap tests. You may need a pelvic exam to check for the cause of the infection and prescribe treatment if needed. Pap tests every 3-6 months to monitor the condition, since mild dysplasia may go away on its own but this cannot be predicted without repeat tests. You may also hear a Pap smear referred to as a Pap test or a cervical smear. If you’re one of those women, you’re probably more than a little nervous about what “abnormal” really means.

This testing can be another Pap test, an HPV test, or a colposcopy — a procedure that helps your doctor look more closely at your cervix to see if there are precancerous cells. Oral contraceptives do increase the risk of developing four circulatory diseases: The pap smear should not be done during your menstrual cycle, as this can affect the results of the test. Most of these changes can be followed closely until they return to normal. A Pap test may be done as part of a regular checkup or during a pelvic exam.

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He will perform an examination called a colposcopy, a simple, painless procedure performed in the doctor’s office. Will my Pap smear diagnose a vaginal infection? A variety of procedures may be performed; LEEP (which stands for loop electrical excision procedure) is the most common, but cryotherapy (freezing the cervical cells) or laser treatment are also options. Candidiasis, many types of yeast and bacteria naturally live in the vagina and rarely cause problems. In fact, the occurrence in the U. You may have a bloody discharge. Benign changes – The cells showed minor to moderate inflammation that was likely the result of an infection. If you have an abnormal Pap test or positive HPV test result, your doctor or nurse may suggest more tests or treatment.

The cervix may be moved from side to side to determine if it is tender to the touch. An abnormal Pap test result does not mean cancer, but it does require follow-up to rule out the possibility of cancer. Your doctor may request a second pap smear as a way of ruling out errors in the test and see if there are signs of HPV DNA.

If you have ever had an abnormal Pap smear, consult with your health care provider concerning how often you will need a Pap smear. Pap smears can detect precancerous conditions. It starts as a precancerous condition called dysplasia. “Most women with an abnormal Pap smear do not have cancer. If you would like more information about having a Pap tests, or want to schedule a consultation or examination by an OB/GYN physician in Denver, contact our office, Kristine A. For about 2 days before the Pap test avoid douching, spermicidal foams, creams, jellies or vaginal medicines (except as directed by your health care provider), which may wash away or hide abnormal cells. First, do not be embarrassed. It can affect both women and men, and generally it doesn't show any signs or symptoms.


Sign up to receive our monthly Cancer Talk e-newsletter. You or your sexual partner has or has had genital wart (HPV) virus infection. Abnormal or ASCUS ASCUS stands for atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance’ and means your test results are abnormal. (The cervix is the lower part of the uterus, which leads into the vagina.)

What are the signs or symptoms of vaginitis? Or it could be something like a virus (the virus that most commonly causes an abnormal cervix is HPV). There are several types of cervical biopsies, but all involve taking a sample of tissue to check for signs of developing cancer. If none is detected, there is no reason for concern. HPV tests are not recommended before age 30 because HPV infections are common in younger, sexually active women and usually resolve without treatment. Cancer of the cervix (cervical cancer) is the fourth most common cause of cancer-related death among women worldwide. This is a more extensive biopsy in which a cone-shaped wedge of abnormal tissue is removed from higher up in the cervical canal. Or it could be cervical or endometrial polyps.

What happens after an abnormal Pap smear?

Cervical cancer can be life-threatening if it goes undetected or untreated. SIL is described as low grade (least severe) or high grade (most severe). Oral thrush treatment, symptoms, contagious period & remedies, if the infant is breastfeeding, the mother’s nipples may need to be treated at the same time, to prevent the infection passing back and forth. (8) I have very heavy periods. My doctor explained that if I had only been diagnosed with HPV, he would have simply continued to screen me with additional Pap smears until it went away. Other possible causes of depression:

Although your annual Pap smear is a very important test, it is not typically used as a test for vaginitis. Your doctor will carefully insert the speculum into the vaginal entrance with one hand, while using the other hand to gently spread the labia. In order to minimize the risk of developing vaginitis, here are some general suggestions for good vaginal health: Many women with dysplasia also show signs of infection with HPV (Human PapillomaVirus). This abbreviation stands for atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance. New recommendations were published in March, 2020 by the U.

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Abnormal pap smears are quite common — about eight percent of tests come back abnormal. Use pads (not tampons) for any bleeding you might have. Invasive cancer means the disease has spread deep into your cervix or to other tissues or organs.