Abnormal Pap Smears: What you should know?
What is a Pap Smear?
A pap smear is a screening process performed on women as part of pelvic examination. It is a simple test to determine any abnormal cell growths in the cervix. As you know cervix is located at the lower part of the uterus, adjacent to the vagina. An abnormal pap smear says there are abnormal cell growths in the cervical area. It may be due to different causes.
Abnormal a pap smear test will hint towards the possibility of cervical cancer. Although, an abnormal pap smear does not mean that you have cervical cancer. A pap smear test can detect the growth of pre-cancerous cells, known as dysplasia. These types of cells can be removed before it develops into cervical cancer. Therefore abnormal pap smear is a preventive step against cervical cancer. Taking pap smear test once in a year will decrease the possibility of developing cervical cancer in women.
Causes of Abnormal Pap Smear
As said earlier, abnormal pap smear refers to the growth of abnormal cells in the cervix. The abnormal cell may be due to the following reasons:
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV): It is a common sexually transmitted infection that causes warts in the body. It can create abnormal cell growth in the cervix. It is a common cause of abnormal pap smear
- Infection: Bacterial or yeast infections may also show up abnormal cell growth during a pap smear.
- Inflammation: The inflammation caused due to different types of sexually transmitted infections may cause abnormal cell growths.
- Menopause: Cell changes may occur during menopause as well.
- Trichomoniasis: A parasital infection in woman with symptoms caused by microorganism called as trichonomas vaginalis.
You are at a higher risk of having abnormal pap smear if you have developed HPV infection anytime, multiple sexual partners, unprotected sexual intercourse, weakened immune system, etc. If you are a smoker, pap smear may be show abnormality.
You will not have any symptoms of abnormal pap smear, but the underlying reason may show up certain symptoms like burning, itching, pain, vaginal discharges, rashes, warts etc.
How is a Pap Smear Done?
Pap smear is part of routine pelvic examination, and it does not require any preparation from your side. It is a painless procedure in which the doctor will open your vagina using a speculum to see the cervix. A swab will be used to take out a few cells in order to test it in the lab.
Post Abnormal Pap Smear
Once you have abnormality in the pap smear, it says that you need further diagnosis to figure out the underlying cause of abnormal cell growth. Your doctor may advise you for a biopsy, to investigate on the possibility of cervical cancer. Your doctor may also opt for a colposcopy, a process in which a microscope to see the cervix.
HPV test is also done to confirm the possibility of the infection. If the abnormality is caused by bacterial infection or vaginal infection, you will be treated for the condition.