What To Expect If You Have An Abnormal Pap Smear

Category: Pap Smears

The first thing you should know if you have an abnormal Pap smear is not to panic. There are many possible causes for an abnormal result, and most of them are not something to get concerned about immediately. If it does happen, here is what to expect if you have an abnormal Pap smear.

Purposes Of A Pap Smear

Do you know why you get a Pap smear at least every 3 years?Patient talking to gynecologist about abnormal pap smear

Doctors are checking for abnormal cervical cells usually caused by HPV, or the human papillomavirus. These cells can lead to the development of cancer cells in the cervix, which need to be monitored or treated early to prevent cervical cancer.

Having a Pap smear every 3 years can detect changes to the tissue in the early stages, making cervical cancer highly treatable. Pap smears, plus the HPV vaccine, can help to prevent 93% of cancer cases. Unfortunately, only 69% of women stay up to date with their Pap smears.

What Happens Next?

As a next step, your OBGYN may recommend another test known as a colposcopy, which is similar to a Pap test, but this time, your physician uses a magnifying lens to look at the cervix and see the abnormal cells. This procedure is done by swiping the area with a liquid which turns the abnormal cells white making the suspicious cells more visible. Then a small amount of tissue is taken for biopsy.

You feel nothing more than a simple pinch, but expect to have some cramping afterward.


The results can be termed as low grade, moderate, or high grade cells.

If the tissue is considered low grade, it is unlikely they will turn into cancer. Therefore the prognosis will be to “watch and wait.”

If the tissue is moderate to high grade, these have a higher risk of developing into cervical cancer.

At that point there are several options available for treatment.

If you have not had a Pap Smear in over 3 years, contact Associates in Womens Health at (402)697-7200 for an appointment at our office in Omaha, NE. 


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