My Pap Smear is Abnormal — Now What?

Preventive measures like a regular Pap smear are an important part of women’s health. The talented OB/GYN team at the Center for Women’s Health, a Division of Mid-Atlantic Women’s Care, PLC, can monitor your health and help you understand the results of your Pap smear and other tests. 

Our offices in Newport News and Hampton, Virginia, provide exceptional, personalized care for women in all stages of life. 

Interpreting your Pap smear results

It is important to understand that abnormal results from your Pap smear, sometimes called a Pap test, rarely indicate that you have cervical cancer. 

Your cervix is located at the lower part of your uterus, just above your vagina, and irregular tissue cells there can indicate a number of developments, including cancer. The specific changes from your Pap smear can reveal the clues our specialists need to correctly interpret your results. 

If your tissue cells appear normal, your Pap test is normal, or negative. Any abnormalities will trigger a positive Pap smear result and warrant further investigation. 

What causes abnormal Pap smear results?

Among the most common causes of abnormal Pap smear results is the human papillomavirus (HPV) This sexually transmitted disease is a known cause of cervical cancer. 

Regular Pap smears allow your OB/GYN at the Center for Women’s Health to monitor your cervical cells and catch any changes early, so treatments can begin as soon as possible. This is also true even if you test positive for HPV. 

Abnormal Pap smear results can have other causes, such as:

Of course, as with many other tests, it’s also possible to receive a false positive on your Pap smear. Certain things can trigger a false positive result, so avoid these things a few days before having your test: 

If you have other questions about items or practices to avoid, check with your OB/GYN at the Center for Women’s Health. 

What if I have abnormal Pap smear results?

When your Pap smear results indicate abnormal cell activity, your OB/GYN can choose from a variety of options moving forward. The type of activity indicated on the Pap smear determines the next step, which can include: 

Another Pap smear

Your OB/GYN may first recommend a second Pap smear to reevaluate your cells. This second Pap smear is often combined with HPV testing. 

Colposcopy

A colposcopy allows your specialist to observe your cervix in more detail to discover just what areas contain abnormal cell tissue. We can also obtain tissue samples for additional testing in a laboratory. 

Removing abnormal cells

If the abnormal cells we discover could become cancerous, your OB/GYN generally recommends removing them. 

We use either cryosurgery or loop electrosurgical excision (LEEP) in our office to remove the abnormal cell tissue. Your provider can explain more about each method as well as which one would work best in your case. 

If you need to schedule a Pap smear or other matter for women’s health, call either of our Virginia offices at the Center for Women’s Health. You can also access your patient portal to obtain test results and other personal health information. 

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