Understanding Abnormal Pap Smears: Causes and Treatment
What is a Pap Smear?
A Pap smear, also known as a Pap test, is a simple screening test that checks for abnormal cells in a woman’s cervix. The test is typically performed during a pelvic exam and involves collecting cells from the cervix using a small brush or spatula. These cells are then examined under a microscope to look for any abnormalities.
What Does an Abnormal Pap Smear Mean?
If your Pap smear results come back abnormal, it means that there are some changes in the cells of your cervix. This does not necessarily mean that you have cancer, but it does indicate that there is a higher risk of developing cervical cancer if the abnormal cells are left untreated.
Causes of Abnormal Pap Smears
There are several factors that can cause an abnormal Pap smear, including:
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection: HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that can cause abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.
- Inflammation: Inflammation of the cervix or vagina can cause abnormal Pap smear results.
- Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during pregnancy, can cause abnormal Pap smear results.
- Cervical dysplasia: This is a condition in which the cells of the cervix start to grow abnormally. It is often a precancerous condition that can lead to cervical cancer if left untreated.
Treatment for Abnormal Pap Smears
The treatment for an abnormal Pap smear depends on the underlying cause of the abnormal cells. In some cases, no treatment may be necessary, and your doctor may recommend simply monitoring the situation with regular Pap smears. In other cases, treatment may be necessary to remove the abnormal cells.
One common treatment for abnormal Pap smears is a colposcopy, which is a procedure that allows your doctor to examine your cervix more closely. During a colposcopy, your doctor may take a biopsy of the abnormal cells or use a special solution to highlight any areas of concern. If abnormal cells are found, your doctor may recommend a procedure to remove them, such as a cone biopsy or cryotherapy.
If you have recently received an abnormal Pap smear result, it is important to follow up with your doctor for further evaluation and treatment. At Essex County OB/GYN & Associates, we offer comprehensive women’s health services, including Pap smears and colposcopies, at our offices in Danvers, Beverly, and Gloucester, Massachusetts. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.