What Happens When My Pap Test is Not Normal?

As discussed in the previous post, a pap test is a screening test for cervical cancer.

What Happens When My Pap Test is Not Normal?-2

It helps to identify women who have cells on their cervix that are concerning and may progress to cancer. Once reviewed, the results will be sent to your doctor who will decide if additional testing is necessary.

If the pap test is abnormal, depending on the results, your doctor will likely want to perform a more thorough exam focusing on the cervix. This test is called a Colposcopy (Colpo means cervix).

Your doctor/healthcare provider, who should be trained in how to do this, will want to look at your cervix more closely under magnification.

There is a special microscope (Colposcope) that allows him/her to see any areas that might be infected by HPV. If there are any areas of concern, additional biopsies may need to be taken to make sure there isn’t something more serious going on,  like a severe dysplasia (abnormal cells)or an early cancer.

This test is not painful, however it can be uncomfortable depending on the findings and if any biopsies need to be taken and it only lasts for 5-10 minutes.

Before a Colposcopy

Do not place anything in the vagina (creams, etc.).

If you are having your period, please call to reschedule.

A pregnancy test will be conducted prior to the exam. This test may still be done if you are pregnant. Your doctor, however, will likely not take any biopsies, rather will only want to look at your cervix

After a Colposcopy

You may have some very mild cramping or spotting (if biopsies were taken).

Depending on the results of any cervical biopsies, your physician/provider, will determine what the best follow-up strategy is and/or if treatment options are available.

Additional Information

For additional information on pap smears or colposcopy see: womenshealth.gov