Abnormal Pap Smears: What They Mean And How To Approach Them

Pap smears are a routine gynecological screening test that can save your life by detecting abnormal cells in your cervix. This simple and painless test involves collecting cells from your cervix and examining them under a microscope to look for any changes or abnormalities that could indicate the presence of cervical cancer or other conditions. While many women have normal results, Los Angeles abnormal pap smear results can be concerning and require further testing and treatment.

How to prepare for a pap smear

During your first appointment at Walk IN GYN Care, your doctor will give you instructions for preparing for your Pap smear. They may advise you to avoid douching, using tampons, or having sexual intercourse for at least 24 hours before the test. You may also need to inform your provider if you are pregnant, have a history of cervical cancer or abnormal pap smears, or are experiencing any unusual symptoms, such as bleeding or discharge. On the test day, it is best to wear comfortable clothing and avoid creams, powders, or other products in the genital area.

What to expect during the procedure

A pap smear is a simple and routine test that medical experts perform to screen for cervical cancer in women. This outpatient procedure takes a few minutes to complete. During the exam, you will lie on an exam table and place your feet in stirrups to provide access to your cervix. Next, your provider will use a small brush or spatula to collect a sample of cells from your cervix and send them to a laboratory for testing. While some women may experience mild discomfort or cramping during the procedure, it is generally not painful, and discomfort usually lasts only a few seconds. After the exam, you may experience some light spotting or discharge but can typically return to your daily activities immediately. Gynecologists recommend regular pap smears every 3-5 years, depending on your age and medical history, to detect any early signs of cervical cancer and improve your chances of successful treatment.

The meaning of an abnormal pap smear

An abnormal Pap smear result means that there are some unusual changes in your cervix. However, it does not necessarily mean that you have cervical cancer, but it does indicate some cell changes that require further investigation. The most common cause of abnormal Pap smears is the presence of human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection that can cause cervical cancer. Other factors that can cause abnormal results include inflammation, infection, or hormonal changes.

If you receive an abnormal Pap smear result, your gynecologist will likely recommend additional tests, such as a colposcopy or biopsy, to determine the cause. Depending on the severity of the abnormality, treatment may be necessary to remove or destroy the abnormal cells. It is important to follow up with recommended testing and treatment to ensure early detection and prevention of cervical cancer.

To explore more about Pap smears, call the Walk IN GYN Care office or use the online scheduling button to create an appointment.

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