Tristan E. Bickman, MD
Santa Monica | obgyn

Abnormal Pap Smears

OB-GYN located in Santa Monica, CA

Abnormal Pap Smears

About Abnormal Pap Smears

Getting the news that your Pap smear results are abnormal can be frightening. As many as 6% of women will have an abnormal Pap smear at some point during their lives, and in most cases, the irregular result isn’t due to cancer. Tristan E. Bickman, MD, in Santa Monica, California, provides expert Pap tests as well as follow-up procedures to diagnose and treat the issue that caused your abnormal results. If you’re due for a Pap smear, call the office or request an appointment online today.

Abnormal Pap Smears Q&A

What causes abnormal Pap smear results?

A wide range of issues could cause abnormal Pap smear results. A Pap smear doesn’t identify or diagnose a condition; it merely identifies abnormal cells. Around 10% of Pap smears have abnormal results, and they usually aren’t due to a severe condition.

The most common cause of cervical cancer and abnormal Pap smear results is an infection with specific strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV). These strains cause your cervical cells to look different when examined under a microscope. Identifying these cell changes early can help you get the right treatment for better overall outcomes.

Should I be worried about my abnormal Pap smear results?

Although you don’t necessarily need to worry about your abnormal Pap smear results, you should make sure to attend all the follow-up appointments and additional testing ordered by your women’s health care specialist. Cervical cancer is rarely the cause of abnormal results, but you still need to get a diagnosis and treatment to protect your health.

What happens if I have an abnormal Pap smear?

If you have an abnormal Pap smear, Dr. Bickman or a member of her team schedules a follow-up appointment. Depending on your results, you may need to have another Pap smear, or your provider may perform another diagnostic test known as colposcopy.

During a colposcopy, your health care provider uses a colposcope to examine your vagina and cervix. A colposcope is a magnifying device that stays outside of your body but provides a clear and enlarged view of the inside of your vagina.

A colposcopy is similar to a Pap test. You recline on a treatment table wearing a gown with a sheet over your legs. Your provider inserts a speculum to open your vagina and get an unobstructed view. They may wipe a vinegar solution on your cervix. Vinegar turns genital warts white, making them easier to identify. 

Then, your provider positions the colposcope outside of your body and looks through it to examine your cervix. They may also take a biopsy of cervical cells for further testing.

Colposcopy isn’t painful. You’ll feel pressure from the speculum and a feeling similar to a Pap smear when the doctor applies the vinegar solution to your cervix. 

Dr. Bickman may also recommend a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) to remove any abnormal cells. LEEP removes abnormal cells with a thin electrical loop. 

Call Tristan E. Bickman, MD, or book an appointment online for your next Pap smear or follow-up today.