Irregular Pap smear
An irregular Pap smear indicates that some abnormal cells have been detected in the sample taken from the cervix. This result may be suggestive of an infection, a precancerous disease or a cancerous lesion. It should be noted that a Pap smear does not provide an exact diagnosis. An accurate diagnosis may require the performance of additional Pap smears, colposcopic examination and testing for sexually transmitted diseases. Sometimes a Pap smear result is false, and it may suggest cervical abnormalities even if everything is actually normal.
When an irregular Pap smear is suggestive of HPV infection, women are often referred for colposcopy and biopsy taken from suspected areas. In some cases it may be necessary to use endocervical curettage and HPV DNA testing to establish a definitive diagnosis and decide if further treatment is needed. The necessity of these diagnostic procedures can be determined only by a health care provider.
In most cases an irregular Pap smear occurs in women infected by HPV or another sexually transmitted infection. It means that she has had sexual contacts with an infected partner. In case of HPV infection, it is virtually impossible to find out when the viral transmission occurred, because HPV may remain in the body for months or years without causing visible symptoms. Therefore, it may be worthwhile to tell previous and current sex partners that they probably also have an HPV infection.
If a woman has an irregular Pap smear she should follow all her doctor’s recommendations. Most cervical abnormalities go away without treatment, but it is also possible that abnormal cells will develop into a precancerous condition - cervical dysplasia, which can progress into cancer if left untreated for a long period of time. For this reason, further testing through Pap smears and monitoring of cervical tissues status is of great importance and should not be neglected.
A Pap smear test should be performed during each pelvic examination since it helps to evaluate a woman's reproductive health status. It is recommended to have Pap smears starting from the age of 18 or from the beginning of sexual activity. Most gynecologists suggest that a Pap smear should be performed at least once a year. If a woman gets an irregular Pap smear she should undergo Pap smears more frequently.