We understand that it can be scary to find out that your pap smear was abnormal. Most abnormal paps require no medical intervention other than close observation by your provider. If your pap is abnormal, your gyn provider is likely to schedule a colposcopy to further assess the cervix under magnification. During the colposcopy, Dr. Ottman may take biopsies to rule out precancerous changes. Colposcopies with or without biopsies cause minimal pain and you will be able to resume your normal activities on the same day.
Most abnormal pap smears are caused by HPV (human papilloma virus). There are many strains of HPV and most have no effect on the body. Of those that do, some strains may cause genital warts, cervical dysplasia, or cervical cancer.
Your provider can advise as to when it is appropriate to have a pap test.
HPV (human papilloma virus), is a viral infection spread through skin to skin sexual contact. Symptoms and signs of HPV often take weeks, months or even years to show. Sometimes no signs or symptoms are present at all. 90% of the time the body's immune system will clear the virus on its own. The other 10% of the time, the human papillomavirus can cause genital warts, cervical, anal or throat cancers.
HPV itself does not have a cure, but there are treatments for the health problems it causes. There are many treatment choices for genital warts. But even after the warts are treated, the virus might still be there and may be passed on to others. If genital warts are not treated they may go away, stay the same, or increase in size or number. All women should get a Pap smear regularly. The Pap test looks for cell changes caused by HPV. The test finds cell changes early -- so the cervix can be treated before the cells turn into cancer. This test can also find cancer in its early stages so it can be treated before it becomes too serious.
There are 20 million Americans infected with HPV.
There now are vaccines that may help prevent HPV. The vaccines are Gardasil and Cervarix. These vaccines mimic the disease and create resistance. These vaccines are NOT a live or a dead virus. It prevents infection with HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18. Cervarix prevents infection with HPV types 16 and 18. These HPV vaccines are now available and recommended for girls, women, boys and men ages 9-26. Because of the potential dangers of treating cervical dysplasia or developing cervical cancer we strongly recommend vaccination for every one indicated.