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Abnormal Pap Smear Management in Charlottesville, Virginia

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What is an Abnormal Pap Smear?

An abnormal Pap smear, also known as a Pap test, indicates the presence of abnormal cervical cells. This could potentially be an early sign of cervical cancer or other types of cervical conditions such as the Human Papillomavirus (HPV infection), and a variety of other factors.

If you receive an abnormal Pap smear result after a gynecological exam, it will be categorized based on the severity of the abnormality. Your provider will discuss the next steps with you based on your results. 

Next Steps After an Abnormal Pap Smear

The next step usually involves additional testing and follow-up. One of the most common tests is a colposcopy, which enables your provider to closely examine the cervix and take biopsies if necessary. This helps determine which type of treatment to provide.

A colposcopy is a simple, minimally invasive procedure and involves a magnifying instrument known as a colposcope which is used while doing a speculum exam like when a pap smear is collected.. You might experience mild discomfort or pressure during the procedure, but most patients report it is not painful. If abnormal areas are identified, your provider will take small biopsies for further evaluation. Most patients report minimal to no pain even with a biopsy.

Not everyone with abnormal Pap smear results needs a colposcopy. The decision will depend on the type of abnormal results you receive and the severity of them.

Causes of Abnormal Pap Smears

There are many reasons you could have abnormal Pap smear results, which is why sometimes  watchful waiting along with regular follow-ups is the best course of treatment:

  • Precancerous cells
  • Cervical cancer
  • Infections other than HPV (e.g., bacterial or yeast infections)
  • Inflammation or irritation of the cervix
  • Recent sexual activity or the use of certain contraceptives
  • Menopause or hormonal changes
  • Cervical polyps or cysts
  • Atrophy of cervical tissue due to aging
  • Previous cervical surgery or procedures

If you have an abnormal Pap smear results after a gynecological exam, our team will guide you through the treatment process.

Treatment Option For Abnormal Pap Smears

Your exact treatment options will depend on the underlying cause and severity of the abnormality. It could include watchful waiting, follow-up Pap tests, removal of abnormal cells, (such as a LEEP), or other treatment options.

Watchful Waiting: If your abnormality is mild, your provider might recommend a watch-and-wait approach. You’ll have regular follow-up appointments and Pap tests to monitor the condition over time, with the goal being to see if the abnormality resolves on its own over time.

Removal of Abnormal Cells (LEEP): If your abnormality is significant or persists, your provider might recommend a LEEP procedure. This involves using a thin wire loop with an electrical current to remove any abnormal cervical tissue or precancerous cells.

Cone Biopsy (Conization): If your abnormality is extensive, a cone biopsy might be recommended, which involves removing a cone-shaped section of the cervix that contains the abnormal cells.

Medication: Depending on the cause of your abnormality, your provider might prescribe medications to address infections,

Start receiving compassionate, expert gynecological care.

Why Choose The Center For Advanced Gynecology

The Center for Advanced Gynecology, established in 2018, is dedicated to improving your health by offering expertise in various areas, with a specific focus on gynecological care in a small private office setting. We have recognized the need in our community for more than just specialty care and have a growing practice in routine gynecologic care, cancer screening, Pap smears, menopausal management, hormonal imbalances, hormone replacement therapy, breast care, contraceptive care, urinary incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse management.

Frequently Asked Questions

The frequency of follow-up Pap smears and testing depends on the specific abnormality, your age, and your provider's recommendations. They will determine the appropriate schedule for monitoring and follow-up.

Cervical cancer screening abnormalities require specific management and care, which might include follow-up Pap tests, HPV testing, colposcopy, or biopsies, as recommended by your provider.

Abnormal Pap tests can include findings like atypical squamous cells and atypical glandular cells. These results indicate potential issues with your cervical health, and further tests or evaluations (such as a colposcopy), could be needed.

HPV is a common cause of abnormal Pap smears, especially high-risk HPV strains. It is a sexually transmitted infection that can lead to cervical cell changes and, in some cases, cervical cancer.

Colposcopy is a procedure where a special instrument with a magnifying lens is used to examine the cervix along with a vaginal speculum as used with routine pap smears. It may cause mild discomfort, but most patients report it is not painful. Biopsies taken during colposcopy might cause some discomfort or cramping.

Having an abnormal Pap smear does not necessarily impact your ability to get pregnant. Your provider will discuss any potential impact on fertility with you and answer any questions.

It’s typically recommended to have a Pap smear every three to five years for people with a cervix who are 21 to 65. The exact frequency can vary based on individual risk factors and medical history, and whether you have had abnormal Pap test results.

Cervical cancer screening involves Pap tests and HPV testing. Abnormal screening test results can lead to follow-up tests like colposcopy or biopsies to determine if there are any signs of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (abnormal cell growth on the cervix) or other concerns. While a negative HPV test can provide reassurance, if there's evidence of moderate or severe dysplasia (from Pap smears or colposcopy results) further evaluation of cervical pathology is necessary.