Abnormal Pap Smear

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On a list of items you desire to be ‘normal’ Pap smear results of your would top the list. An abnormal pap smear can be scary.

In case you are not familiar with the term, a pap smear is a routine test conducted by a woman’s doctor to screen for cancer and other diseases. The worst part of this test, aside from the indignity of stirrups and speculum is waiting for the lab results.

How an Abnormal Pap Smear works

Every woman of 18 years and older should plan on visiting their OB/GYN for a pap smear at least annually. (Some doctors preferred a biannual test, but you should discuss frequency needs with your doc.) The procedure is performed during an office visit and involves taking a sample of cervical tissues for evaluation using a cotton swab. A pap is fairly painless quick process.

Abnormal Pap Smear Symptoms

There are no symptoms that you may notice that would prompt you to run to your doctor for a pap test. This is why it is important to have a test regularly. A pap test detect changes in cervical tissues and is the only preventive cancer test in the world to have a proven record for reducing the numbers of deaths attributable to diseases for which it screens. It is particularly important to have regular pap tests if you are sexually active.

Causes of an abnormal pap smear

Remembering that a pap smear is just a screening and not conclusive diagnosis does not necessarily help ease the tension. This means that even if your pap smear comes back with abnormal results this does not necessarily mean that you have cancer. There are a number of reasons why a pap test would show abnormal results.

Many factors singly or in combination can cause an abnormal result. One of the most common, yet completely harmless, impetuses of an abnormal pap test is the use of feminine hygiene products like douches or fragrances. It should also be noted that recent sexual encounters may alter test results. For this reason is it best to put a hold on the hanky panky until after your test.

Some times a Pap test abnormality is the result of a disease, but not cancer. Inflammation or infection from a yeast infections, herpes and trichomonas can all trigger abnormal results.

One final culprit is the HPV virus. This is a common trouble maker, with about 60% of women playing host to this virus. If your test does reveal HPV, your doctor may want to keep a close watch on your cervix for a while.

What happens after an Abnormal Pap Smear?

The first thing to expect if the results of your pap smear are not normal is more tests. You and your doctor will want to rule out other causes, as well as pinpoint the level of progression if the results to turn out to be cancerous. The most common course of action is retesting and a Colposcopy, or visual examination of the cervix.

The most important thing to remember is not to panic if you get an abnormal pap smear; most of the time it turns out to be minor if anything at all.