My Pap Smear Was Abnormal -- Now What?

Pap smears are something just about every woman experiences in her life, because yearly gynecological exams are so important for your reproductive health. However, anxiety might set in when you think of the possibility of results that you're not expecting.

Dr. John Paul Roberts is an amazing OB/GYN who can help you figure out what the next step is after you receive a Pap result that isn't normal. He can explain your options and get you the treatment you need.

What is a Pap smear?

A Pap smear is a preventive test that helps Dr. Roberts analyze your cervical cells. It's usually performed at your annual exam. The cells are obtained from your cervix using a small brush or a flat scraping tool. You may experience some mild cramping, but usually this procedure doesn't cause pain.

After your Pap exam is finished, you're able to go about your day without any restrictions. Once the results of your Pap smear are back from the lab, Dr. Roberts informs you of the results.

You may be wondering when you should start getting Pap smears. Usually a Pap is performed after you turn 21. However if you have any vaginal problems or become sexually active before that, you should start getting Pap smears earlier.

For most women, testing should then be done every three years between the ages of 21 and 65, unless you have problems that arise, or you have risk factors that would require more frequent testing. Dr. Roberts will talk with you about how often you need a Pap test.

What do abnormal results mean?

It's okay to feel a little overwhelmed after finding out that your Pap came back abnormal. There are many causes of abnormal cells including:

Cervical dysplasia is a very common abnormal Pap result. It's caused by cells that undergo some kind of abnormal change. The most common cause for this condition is human papilloma virus (HPV). Usually the cells that are found with this condition aren't cancerous, but may develop into cancer at some point down the road.

Pap smears really are important to your overall health because they can detect changes that could potentially put you at risk for cervical cancer. If you have an abnormal test, Dr. Roberts will go over the results with you and talk about the next step in your treatment plan.

Treatment options 

After an abnormal result, Dr. Roberts either performs another Pap smear or another procedure, called a colposcopy, to confirm the results of your Pap. A colposcopy is a procedure that allows Dr. Roberts to examine your vagina, vulva, and cervix for signs of disease. During the exam, he may take a biopsy of unusual-looking cells to send off for testing. The results from the biopsy determine if you need further treatment.

There are two types of cell changes that may be found during your colposcopy: low-grade changes and moderate-to-severe changes. With low grade changes, Dr. Roberts may just want to watch you a little more closely and have you come back in a few months for a follow-up visit and repeat Pap smear. With moderate-to-severe changes, he may recommend a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP).

With LEEP, Dr. Roberts uses a tool with a wire loop at the end to remove the abnormal cells from your cervix. The tool has an electrical current which heats up the loop for it functions as a surgical knife.

When the procedure is finished, you can go home after resting for about 15 minutes. Dr. Roberts sends the tissue that was removed to the lab, and you should expect the results in about 10 days. You come in for a follow up appointment to go over the results and make a plan for future visits.

If you’re in need of a Pap smear, call our office at 972-591-8826 or book an appointment online.

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