What Is an Abnormal Pap Smear?

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What Is an Abnormal Pap Smear?

Find out what an abnormal pap smear actually means.

So, you’ve been told that you have an abnormal pap smear. Now what? A Pap smear is a test that our Bloomington, IL, OBGYNs Dr. Dele Ogunleye, Dr. Lisa Emm, and Dr. Angela Baja perform to check for abnormal cervical cells. Most patients will get their results back within 1-2 weeks. If you just found out that you have an abnormal Pap smear result, we know this news can be scary. Take a deep breath. Here’s what you should know.

It Rarely Means That You Have Cancer 

Most patients panic when they hear that they have an abnormal Pap smear result, and with good reason, but it’s important to know that this does not mean that you have cancer. In fact, sometimes nothing may even be wrong. Your results may be inconclusive, which can happen if you’ve recently had sex or used tampons before your Pap smear was performed.

If your test came back abnormal this does mean that there are some noticeable changes in the cells of the cervix. Again, this doesn’t mean cancer. The majority of women that receive abnormal Pap smear results from our Bloomington, IL, OBGYNs do not develop cervical cancer.

It’s Usually Something Less Worrisome

So, what does your abnormal Pap smear result actually mean? There are a number of reasons why cervical cells change. It’s can often be a sign of inflammation or infection including HPV, herpes, or trichomoniasis (a bacterial infection). The test will let us know whether the cells are high-grade or low-grade, which determines whether the cells are only slightly abnormal or if they could possibly turn cancerous in the future.

You May Need Additional Testing 

It’s important to figure out what has caused the cervical cell changes. If you didn’t receive an HPV test along with your Pap smear, we may test you for HPV. We may also recommend getting another Pap smear in a couple of months to see if the results have changed. In some cases, we may need to perform a colposcopy, which allows our team to better examine the cells of the cervix by collecting a tissue sample for testing.

If you have questions about your upcoming pap smear or about your results, our Bloomington, IL, OBYNs would be happy to sit down with you to discuss any concerns you may have. Call Advanced Women's Healthcare today at (309) 808-3068.