What Happens After an Abnormal Pap Smear Test Result?
The procedure itself is very quick and straightforward, much like a regular gynecological examination. The speculum we always use to do a Pap will be used in a patient's vagina so we can see her cervix. The lights will be turned off in the exam room so we can use a green light to visualize her cervix. Often the doctor will be silent at this time, studying the patient's cervix for abnormal areas. I tell my patients that my silence does not mean I'm seeing something terrible—it just means I'm concentrating.
After the procedure, patients may have some minor cramping. We recommend taking over-the-counter ibuprofen for this as needed. Patients may also take over-the-counter pain meds an hour before the procedure. As mentioned previously, a couple of days of light bloody/brownish/blackish/grainy discharge is normal.
So that's what is normal. But what's not normal? Vaginal bleeding like a period, persistent or increasing lower abdominal pain, fever or malodorous vaginal discharge. Please call your gynecologist if you experience any of these symptoms.
There's always art to medicine, so your own gynecologist may have her own way of doing things. Be sure to ask her if you have any questions or concerns. More often than not, these biopsies show nothing of immediate concern, although you'll probably be asked to follow up with your ob/gyn more frequently in the next year to keep an eye on things.
Above all, do not be afraid to go into your ob/gyn's office to follow up on an abnormal Pap result. You don't want to postpone and end up dealing with the potential of cancer down the road.
Dr. Yvonne Bohn, Dr. Allison Hill and Dr. Alane Park are the Mommy Docs. While they are doctors, they're also moms with six kids among them. They've welcomed more than 15,000 babies into the world. The Mommy Docs are featured in the TV series Deliver Me on the Discovery Health Channel. For more information on the Mommy Docs, visit mommydocs.com.
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