The Pap smear is a regular part of your annual pelvic exam. When the results come back “abnormal,” however, you may have numerous questions about what happens next. At Complete Healthcare for Women in Richland, Washington, Dr. Richard Lorenzo helps women understand what an abnormal pap smear could mean and helps them plan the next steps.
Dr. Lorenzo performs a Pap smear, or Pap test, during your annual exam. The doctor takes a sample of cells from your cervix using a swab or small brush, and sends them off to a lab for analysis to look for abnormalities.
An abnormal Pap smear means that some of the cells of your cervix don’t look like they should. Although the Pap smear is done to screen for cervical cancer, an abnormal reading doesn’t mean you have cancer. Most of the time, an abnormal reading is due to the human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease.
As you age and approach menopause, your cervical cells change, too. Other types of bacterial or viral infections can cause your cervical cells to look suspicious. Smoking and immune deficiencies are other reasons for abnormal cells.
The lab will label any abnormal cells according to their appearance and difference from normal-looking cells. Dr. Lorenzo will then determine the most appropriate treatment. In most cases, he’ll order another Pap test in a few months, as abnormal cells often go away on their own.
In some cases, he’ll order a colposcopy, which is a test that examines the vagina and cervix in a more in-depth manner. Remember, abnormal tests are something to watch and be prudent about -- but don’t warrant a panic.
You may have human papillomavirus, or HPV, if you’d had sexual intercourse without a condom, had multiple sexual partners, or your singular sexual partner has had multiple partners. HPV lingers in the body for years without your knowledge, so an abnormal smear might occur quite a while after your exposure.
Immediate symptoms of HPV include a vaginal discharge, pain or itching in your genital area, and sores or warts around your genitals. But oftentimes the infection produces no symptoms at all.
How you’re treated depends on the degree of the cell changes in your cervix. You may need a treatment that removes or destroys the abnormal cells, because certain kinds do have the possibility of turning cancerous.
At Complete Healthcare for Women, we participate with most insurance carriers. Here is a short list of plans we accept. Please contact our office if you do not see your insurance plan. If determined, we do not participate with your insurance company, we will submit claims for you as a courtesy. If the insurance company does not pay within 45-days, you will be responsible for payment of all charges.
"Cannot say enough great things about him and his staff. Thank you again and again for my beautiful life!"
"Dr. Lorenzo is amazing, calm, cool and collected and knows his stuff! I am very happy that I found the office and will continue to go."