One of the services an OB/GYN like Judson Shelnutt M.D offers is a pap smear. Women over 21 years of age are recommended to get a pap smear at least once every couple of years.
A pap smear is a screening tool that your gynecologist utilizes to find if there are any abnormal cells in your cervix. The most prevalent reason for a pap smear is to screen for cervical cancer.
On the other hand, if your pap smear has abnormal results, it does not automatically mean that you have cancer. There are several reasons for abnormal pap smear results including:
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is not only one of the most prevalent Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), but it is also one of the most common reasons for abnormal pap smear results. It can affect both men and women, and often has no signs and symptoms, hence the need for a pap smear.
HPV will often clear up on its own accord without the need for treatment, and it also will not cause any other health issues. However, in severe cases it might lead to cancer growth. If so, you will have to seek treatment immediately.
Cervical Dysplasia is not cervical cancer but a prelude to it. It is a condition whereby the cells on the cervix experience abnormal changes which, if not treated in due time, will lead to cervical cancer.
Cervical Dysplasia has several stages. It usually starts with low grade or mild Cervical Dysplasia which will often clear up on its own, but needs regular monitoring.
If it gets to the point of advanced Cervical Dysplasia, your doctor will have to remove the cells. Doing so is the only way to ensure that the cells don’t develop into cervical cancer.
Abnormal pap smear results may also be caused by the presence of STDs, especially in women between the ages of 16 and 35. The STD that most often causes abnormal pap smear results is trichomoniasis.
The symptoms of trichomoniasis include vaginal itching, odor, or discharge. Therefore, if you experience any of the above symptoms, you should definitely get a pap smear checkup. If you do have the disease, you will require antibiotics to treat it.
A Pap smear may also show signs of other STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea, but more testing is usually needed for confirmation.
Another common reason why your pap smear test may have abnormal results is if you have a vaginal infection. There are many types of vaginal infections which are not tied to having an STD, for example, a yeast infection.
The symptoms of a vaginal infection include itching, foul smelling emissions, and fluid discharge from the vagina. These symptoms are also symptomatic of some STDs, so you should schedule a pap smear as soon as possible.
Your doctor will then recommend an avenue of treatment based on your infection.
There are other reasons for abnormal results on your pap smear but the four above are the most common. Therefore, don’t be afraid of cancer and just go and get a pap smear.