I had an abnormal Pap Smear, Now what?
An abnormal Pap Smear can happen to any woman at any point in her life. Abnormal pap smears do not discriminate on age, sex or race. In fact, abnormal pap smears can happen to virgins and those sexually active.
To understand what an abnormal Pap Smear, you need to answer the following questions:
Have you had a history of abnormal pap smears in the past? (If you don't have the answer to this, click here for an easy guide on asking for medical records.)
Have you had a chance to discuss the abnormal result with your doctor?
Are you sexually active? If so, have you been tested for sexually transmitted diseases?
Do you understand that this is normal and OKAY? Sometimes, abnormal pap smears are nothing more than a contaminated sample in the lab.
It's Happened To All Of Us...
Do abnormal Pap Smears mean I have cancer?
An abnormal pap smear could mean many things, not necessarily cancer. Most importantly, it could mean you have HPV: Human Papillomavirus. Did you know that according to the CDC, over 80% of men and women have HPV at any, one time? Have you checked out the "Myths and Facts of Cervical Cancer" yet? The National Cervical Cancer Coalition knows their stuff.
How Do I Know If I Have HPV?
To find out if your body is carrying the Human Papillomavirus, you'll need to ask for an HPV test from your gyno or doctor. Many doctors don't give the test unless asked, feel free to request one. Most insurances cover the test's cost, but you may want to check your individual coverage to find out for sure.
The CDC offers an excellent tool called, "Making Sense of Your Pap Smear and HPV Test." It's a must-read!
What causes abnormal Pap Smears?
Remember, all women are at risk for an abnormal pap smear. The Association for Reproductive Health Professionals, (ARHP,) made a worksheet to help you decipher your test results and their causes. Your pap result isn't a cause for worry. It's simply a tool to gauge your risk factor for cervical cancers. If you have any concerns, remember to discuss them with your medical provider. If you need a reminder of what questions to ask, download this worksheet!
Discussing Your Pap Smear Results Video: