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My Pap Was Abnormal. Now What?

My Pap Was Abnormal. Now What?

Have you had a Pap smear? And have the results come back as abnormal? If so, it's understandable to be concerned. However, an abnormal result doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer.

At Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare in Fayetteville, Newnan, and Stockbridge, Georgia, our board-certified providers use Pap smears as part of our commitment to comprehensive women’s health and gynecological care. And, we know that while an abnormal Pap smear can point to a serious condition, we also know this isn’t always the case.

In this blog, our providers explain what Pap smears are for, what an abnormal result can mean, and what your next steps may be if you get an abnormal result.

Why do women need Pap smears?

Pap smears are a health-preserving measure for women ages 65 and under, and they’re generally scheduled every 3-5 years, depending on age and other factors. This test can detect precancerous cells, which can allow for early treatment before the condition develops into life-threatening cancer.

This simple in-office procedure includes a swab of your cervix to look for abnormal changes in the cells. If the lab analysis indicates there are abnormal cells, it could mean there’s an underlying issue that needs medical attention.

What does an abnormal Pap smear mean?

Having an abnormal Pap smear does not necessarily mean you have cervical cancer. Every year, more than 3 million women get abnormal Pap results, but fewer than 1% of these women have cervical cancer.

Besides indicating that there could be cancerous or precancerous cells, a Pap smear can also come back as abnormal due to:

If you receive an abnormal Pap smear result, be sure to follow up with your Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare provider, since many conditions and factors can trigger this type of result. During your follow-up appointment, your provider will go over the results and explain the abnormalities present.

Our team will also answer your questions and address any concerns. If you have additional symptoms, such as an unusual vaginal discharge, abnormal bleeding, or pelvic pain, it’s important to share this information at your appointment. 

Do I need treatment if I have an abnormal Pap smear?

Whether you need treatment after a Pap smear depends on the reason for your abnormal test results. For example, if your abnormal results are caused by an infection, your provider may recommend antibiotics.

If the cause of your abnormal results isn’t clear, our team may recommend additional tests. For example, your provider may suggest a colposcopy, which is similar to a Pap smear and allows your provider to check your cervix and surrounding tissues for abnormal cells.

If the results from your colposcopy or other tests don’t give your provider cause for concern, your provider will likely follow up with another Pap smear in a year or so. If anything further arises, our team can discuss it with you to determine the next step.

If you need a Pap smear or have questions about abnormal results, call 770-991-2200 or book an appointment online with Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare today.

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