Abnormal pap smear means the test revealed that you have an infection or abnormal cells known as dysplasia. This test is done as a woman’s routine  physical exam  and its the best way to prevent cervical cancer. An abnormal result doesn’t mean you have cancer.


abnormal pap smear


What causes an abnormal pap smear ?


Some of the causes of an abnormal pap smear include the following :

  • an infection or inflammation
  • HPV – Human Papilloma Virus .It is also known as genital warts. Up to 60% of women  carry it on their cervix, skin or genital area  and are completely unaware of it.
  • trichomoniasis
  • dysplasia which are abnormal cells that can be precancerous

What increases your risk for abnormal pap smear ?


Having sex without a condom and having more than one sex partner increases your risk of HPV.  HPV raises your risk  for an abnormal pap smear. You can HPV in your body for many years and not know it. So even though you may just have one partner and practice safe sex, you can have an abnormal  pap smear if you had HPV in the past.


Smoking also compromises your immune system and raises your risk  of having cervical cell changes.


What is the treatment for abnormal pap smear ?


You have to know that this is a test and not a diagnosis. An abnormal pap smear does  not mean you have cancer or  dysplasia.


You however need further evaluation such as another pap smear, colposcopy (using a microscope to look into the cervix) or a biopsy (removing a small amount of tissue from the cervix). These  testings are required to determine if the abnormality is as a result of infection, inflammation, herpes, trichomoniasis , yeast infection or HPV.


HPV is the main risk of cervical cancer. However women who received treated for abnormal cells caused by HPV, do not develop cervical cancer.


If abnormal cells persist, you may need further treatment which includes

  • a  colposcopy –  a speculum is inserted into the vagina, and the cervix is painted with  vinegar solution .  This is to make the abnormal cells stand out. A biopsy is taken of any abnormal area for accurate diagnosis
  • Cryosurgery, or a freezing of the abnormal cells.
  • A cone biopsy is when a  triangle of cervical tissue is removed including the abnormal cells
  • The LEEP procedure is similar to the cone biopsy.The difference is that  a loop-shaped instrument is used to remove the abnormal area.

You will need follow-up check ups to make sure that all the abnormal cells are gone and the cervix is healed. Your health care provider will advise you how often you need a routine pap smear.


What happens if i have an abnormal pap smear during pregnancy ?


If you had an abnormal pap smear during pregnancy, a  colposcopy  can be performed while pregnant. However further treatment will have to wait until after you deliver . Pap smear during pregnancy does not pose any risk to your baby.

Content Sources

Abnormal pap smear. American Pregnancy Association. http://americanpregnancy.org/womens-health/abnormal-pap-smear/.Accessed January 28, 2016

Abnormal pap smear. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/women/tc/abnormal-pap-test-topic-overview. Accessed January 28, 2016

Abnormal pap smear. American Academy of Family Physicians.http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/cervical-cancer/diagnosis-tests/how-to-interpret-abnormal-pap-smear-results.html. Accessed January 28, 2016

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