Routine visits to South Lake OB-GYN, especially ones that include pap smears, are one of the best ways you can take a proactive approach to your gynecological health. For the most part, women who undergo a pap smear rarely ever receive a call-back from their OB-GYN.
On occasion, however, some patients could receive a pap smear that comes back “abnormal,” which may require further testing. We understand that hearing this result can be alarming, but it’s important to understand that an abnormal pap is not always a cause for concern. The best way to determine this is by returning to our office for further testing.
What does an abnormal pap smear result mean?
By definition, an abnormal pap smear is when the results of your pap indicate that cells from your cervix are irregular. Typically, about 10 percent of pap smears return abnormal results that are usually caused by infection, or cells that are pre-cancerous or cancerous. There are several things that can cause an abnormal pap result, they include:
- Sexual activity that occurred 24 to 48 hours before the pap smear
- STDs (Trichomoniasis, Hermes, HPV)
- Menstrual blood
- Dysplasia (the cells that show to be cancerous or pre-cancerous)
If you have the rare experience of receiving pap results that are abnormal, we will need to do further testing to diagnose the cause. An undiagnosed STD, for example, is something that will need to be treated right away to stop side effects or risk of spreading the infection. We may also order an additional pap smear, simply to rule out the possibility that the abnormal results were a false positive.
Additional testing may include a colposcopy, in which your cervical tissue is observed under a specific light and lens after being treated with acetic acid.
There are several steps we may take to determine the cause of abnormal pap results, which will most likely include thorough further testing. If abnormal cells are observed, we will most likely decide it’s time for a biopsy. In a biopsy procedure, a small sample of tissue is removed from the area where the abnormal cells were observed and sent off to the lab for further testing. Although it may be nerve-racking, the biopsy itself is a simple procedure which may cause a small sting with some very light bleeding.
Typically, it takes roughly two weeks to receive results of the biopsy. There are many occasions when biopsy results come back perfectly normal, revealing that you are 100 percent healthy. Our doctor will discuss whether or not follow-up appointments, or any further treatment, will be necessary.
To get started with our expert physicians who will help you take charge of your gynecological health, contact South Lake OB-GYN today.