The word “abnormal” is definitely a powerful one, particularly when it comes from a doctor; but your OB-GYN Montgomery County Dr. Rania Ibrahim wants you to know that it is not a death sentence, and is actually quite common.
Studies indicate that anywhere from two to six percent of women who still have their cervix will experience an abnormal Pap smear test at least once in their lives.
First, let’s explain what a Pap smear or Pap test is: It’s a routine test performed to determine whether you have cancer in your cervix, and is typically performed in conjunction with regular annual gynecological check-up. If, while examining these cells your OB-GYN Montgomery County finds something that doesn’t look quite right, you’ll get a call that your Pap smear test has come back “abnormal”.
What Does An Abnormal Pap Smear Indicate?
What OB-GYNs are looking for with the Pap smear test is the presence of precancerous cells that appear to be “abnormal,” in the sense that they are not dying at the end of their normal life span or are dividing in an unusual manner.
This may sound scary to you, but here’s the good news – early detection saves lives. The earlier your OB-GYN Montgomery County can detect these cells, the earlier you can get rid of them.
Cervical cancer is a disease that takes years to grow and for this reason, it’s recommended that patients get tested every two to three years beginning at the age of 21.
What Causes An Abnormal Pap Result?
There are a few things that can cause the cells in your cervix to appear abnormal:
Human Papillomavirus (HPV): The majority of abnormal Pap smear test results are caused by the sexually transmitted infection or HPV. HPV is the most common STI in the United States; in fact, it’s so common that almost every sexually active human will experience at least one strain of HPV at some point.
Other Sexually Transmitted Infections: Other STIs can cause your cervical cells to become swollen, making them appear abnormal. Chlamydia or gonorrhea are both very common in these cases.
Yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis: These are other causes of cervical inflammation that can be read as an abnormal Pap smear test. Symptoms can include itching and irregular discharge.
Smoking: Research has found that smoking is linked to a higher chance of having abnormal cervical cells. Research has found that if you smoke tobacco, your chance of getting cervical cancer increases by two to four times.
If you do have precancerous cells, your OB-GYN Montgomery County will get rid of them by using laser therapy, which is when the abnormal cells are burned away with a laser. Another way to get rid of unwanted cervical cells is through cryotherapy, which is freezing the cells using a cold probe. With both of these procedures, once the abnormal cells are destroyed, normal cells can grow back in their place.
If it’s time for your Pap smear test – don’t hesitate – contact the office of OB-GYN Montgomery County Dr. Rania Ibrahim to schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience.