Abnormal Pap Smears – What Next?

Updated on December 3, 2020

If you’ve ever been for a pap smear, you know that it can be a bit of an awkward experience. 

However, we’re all aware of the importance of these rudimentary tests, with gynecologists all over the country performing hundreds of them on young women daily. Pap smears are essential to confirm that you are healthy and free from infection. 

But what happens when your test results come back abnormal? What does it mean? What are your next steps? Should you be worried?

What Does an Abnormal Pap Smear Result Mean?

Pap smears are performed to detect abnormal cells on the cervix. There are only two results of a pap smear, normal or abnormal.

A pap smear is performed so that doctors can take a sample of cells from the cervix using a speculum, to gain access to the cervix, and a brush or spatula, to extract the cells. While the procedure may be a bit uncomfortable, it rarely takes very long and is relatively painless.

However, if your results indicate that abnormal cells are present, this can be very disconcerting and actually quite scary. You need not panic straightaway, however – having abnormal test results can indicate a number of different outcomes. 

It does not mean you definitely have cervical cancer, in fact, it’s far more likely that you do not.

Most Commonly Found Abnormal Cells

It is not immediately obvious to consider, but it makes sense that the abnormality of cells vary by degree. Some cells may be slightly odd in comparison to completely normal cervical cells, but doctors will not necessarily consider this cause for concern. However, the more atypical the cells become, the more likely the diagnosis would be cancer.

The following are some of the most commonly defined cell abnormality, increasing in cause for concern as you go down the list.

  • Atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS)
  • Squamous intraepithelial lesion (SIL).
  • Atypical glandular cells.
  • Squamous cell cancer or adenocarcinoma cells.

Because pre-cancerous cells often take several years to develop into cancer, regular pap screening tests are highly recommended. It is very unlikely an individual would have developed cervical cancer from one test to the next with no pre-cancerous cells present in their previous first test.

How Should I Respond to Positive Pap Smear Results?

If your results from a pap smear test, or HPV test for that matter, come back positive, you will likely have to wait for a number of weeks to receive a full diagnosis on the category of abnormal cells present. You may have to undergo a colposcopy and a biopsy of the cells to obtain a full diagnosis.

This can be a very worrying time for many young women – although it is likely there is nothing too much to worry about, the uncertainty is there, nonetheless.

If you have abnormal cells, it is likely that you have HPV, the most commonly transmitted sexual infection in the United States. In many cases, your body is able to fight off this infection providing your immune system is functioning effectively, in other cases, laser therapy treatment or cryotherapy treatment may be needed to address the infection.

Is There A Natural Response I Can Take To HPV?

As HPV is an infection, your body’s immune system will attempt to fight the infection off. By maintaining a healthy immune system, this can contribute to better success in getting rid of HPV naturally

You can take several lifestyle measures in response to an abnormal pap smear test result which will help to boost your immune system:

  • Stop smoking,
  • Reduce your alcohol intake,
  • Avoid stress-inducing situations,
  • Adopt a healthy diet filled with fruit and vegetables,
  • Take immune system boosting supplements.
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