Abnormal Pap smear (girlie, but scary)

Get ready to read about my reproductive system!

I got a really intimidating letter yesterday stating that my Pap smear was abnormal (though no cancerous or precancerous cells were noted). The letter asked me to schedule a colposcopy, which I’ve been doing some reading about and can tell you, sounds like no fun at all. The procedure will mean that the doctor is going to go in there, scrape off chunks (slight exaggeration) of my cervix, and send them out for biopsy. This will be done under mild anesthesia and, they claim, will hurt no more than menstrual cramps. I don’t believe this at all, considering that they also claim that Pap smears are entirely painless, and those feel like small, intensely located cramps. Bastards.

I called this morning to schedule an appointment, and the girl I talked to went from cheerful to cautiously somber, said that there was no one available to handle the scheduling of such an appointment, and told me to leave a message. So I leave a nice message at frickin’ 9:00am, and they still haven’t called back. I’m sorry, but if you send a woman a 3-page letter telling her all about this procedure she has to go through to find out whether or not she has cancer, you BETTER CALL HER BACK when she tries to schedule the damn thing.

I’ve been looking on WebMD, and it says that about 10% of Pap smears will be abnormal, but only 0.1% of the women who have abnormal results actually have cancer. A number of benign conditions can cause such a so-called false-positive result. I’m hoping for that. What makes me nervous is that my grandmother died of cancer in her nether regions.

Has anyone else had an abnormal Pap smear? What benign things can cause one? What should I expect at the procedure? I’m probably far more freaked out than this warrants, but still… ugh. I need warm thoughts.

I’m sorry, that must be scary. I only had an abnormal one once, and that was a few months after I had a baby. Apparently it’s not uncommon for the first one after pregnancy to be abnormal. They just had me come back in for another one after a month or so.

I hope the procedure goes well. I don’t feel anything when I get a Pap smear, but I know how painful any kind of bump or injury to the cervix can be. Make sure they get that painkiller right in there.

Good luck.

I’ve had three or four abnormal Pap smears, one before I had kids and the others after. Each time, they’ve done retesting and it’s turned out to be nothing. I’d say just try to stay calm, don’t worry too much (that’s like saying “turn the sky green,” I know, but TRY) and get the test done as soon as you can. I freaked out completely the first time, but I’ve been calmer since. It’s really usually not anything at all.

Just think, when you buy a lottery ticket, you don’t go home and immediately start buying stuff on credit, do you? This is about the same odds or maybe even less.

Please don’t get too worked up. I had a ‘mildly abnormal’ pap in February 1996, and from then on in had to have pap smears every six months. It was not until last year that they said I didn’t have to go every six months. It seems that having to go once a year is good enough for me now, since they haven’t detected anything since that first abnormal one.

I went for a pap earlier this month. Laying on the table, feet in the stirrups… “Just relax” my doctor said. I told him: “YOU get this done, and see how well you relax”. They’re full of hooey when they say it’s painless. I feel that damned swab poking about my cervix, and the mental anguish I (foolishly, I’m sure) go through from the time I make the appointment until I know that the results are normal, are painful for me.

My warm thoughts to you: It’s not going to be nearly as bad as you think it will be, and you can always eat a lot of beans and fart at the doctor as he prods. :slight_smile:

I’ve had abnormal pap smears and was asked to come in for another. The second one always turned out fine. In my case, there wasn’t anything wrong – the slides had gotten contaminated or the samples lost or some other dumb lab mistake.

I wish I could ease your mind a bit more. At the very least you have my sympathy. I understand how scary this can be.

My advice is to only worry about the facts. Try not to let your imagination speculate about all the horrible tragedies that could befall you. And try not to worry about what you can’t control.

My bet is this is nothing, or something very minor and fixable. However I am a little concerned that they didn’t ask you to come in for another pap; they’re automatically going to a biopsy procedure. Hm. IANA doctor, so I don’t know what that means. They could just be really thorough, or you could have a really great insurance company that will pay for anything.

Deferring to others who may have gone through this procedure. I have not.

Best of luck and keep us posted!

I have had two colposcopies. TMI is sure to follow.

The first one was after Planned Parenthood said I had an abnormal Pap smear, but the colposcopy showed nothing.

The second time, they told me to get my ass in right away for a colposcopy, and I did, but not to PP. I found an OB/GYN from a nurse referral (the best kind, IMHO) and showed her what the long letter from the clinic said. I had understood none of it, but apparently she did, because she had me naked in the next room in 5 minutes to do the colposcopy.

The colposcopy itself- icky but over quickly. She snipped a couple of pieces off of my cervix, and put them in some liquid for shipping to a lab. Local anesthetic, the brush-on kind, was used, but it hurt. Also, it is an expensive procedure, please tell me you have insurance, because I didn’t.

Here’s the result- it was a kind of pre-cancerous condition, some kind of dysplasia IIRC. Basically, the wrong kind of cells were starting to grow, and they wanted to catch it right away.

As a result, I had a procedure called a cone biopsy, or a LEEP, where they removed part of my cervix with a really hot wire loop, so it cut and cauterized at the same time. Eewwww. Local anesthetic was almost sufficient (doctors just don’t understand the tolerance levels of ex-addicts!). If you can picture what it looks like to core the top of an apple, that’s what they did. No lasting effects, no pregnancy or birth complications, and no recurrance. This was in 1992 or 1993, and for several years after that I had Pap smears every 6 months just to check.

It could be nothing, but you should be glad that they want to check. Even if it is something, it sounds like it’s early in the game, and whatever it is they’ll take care of it! Don’t sweat it, and let us know!

I’ve been there. Had the biopsy thing done, and then they did the “freezing” thing.

It wasn’t that bad. Truly.

I mean, it wasn’t exactly my idea of a good time, but it was nothing compared to what I’d built up in my head.

When they snip at the cervix, it feels like it does when someone gives you a good pinch. It’s over in just a second. And the cramps were very mild. (Of course, I usually have pretty bad cramps every month, so my idea of what’s bad might be different from yours.)

I found the humiliation of having my legs up in the stirrups, etc., much worse than the discomfort of the actual procedure. I HATE pap smears!

It’ll be okay, really. And IANAD, but I’m pretty sure that the more relaxed you are, the less it will hurt. Easier said than done, I know.

Good luck!

My experience was much like EJsGirl. Got an abnormal pap smear, went in for the coloscopy, results came back as dyplasia, got the cone biopsy.

You are ahead of the game here, so you’ll be fine. The worst pain you’ll get from these (in my experience) are about the equivalent of really bad menstral cramps.
Sending warm & happy thoughts your way, Beadalin. I know it’s scary, but you’ll make it through ok.

Thanks for the support, you wonderful ladies. Knowing what will happen from a real person who has gone through it makes me feel a lot better than reading about the procedure from a clinical standpoint. I do have very good health insurance, thanks be. I’ve never had to get anything expensive done, but I think I have a small co-pay regardless.

Thank you very much for the warm thoughts and insight. Really, I feel worlds better. I’ll just keeo re-reading this thread whenever my brain decides to send up flares of “Hysterectomy followed by death!” panic. Heh.

I’ll let you know how everything turns out.

GrizzWife has had “abnormal cells” show up a couple of times during pap smears.
First time, they did the freezing thing.
Just recently, they did a LEEP procedure under mild anesthetic. She felt nothing and the site didn’t bleed but for just a few spots for a few days. After that, the scab on her cervix must’ve worked loose because she had some spotting maybe once a day for the 5th to 12th day after the procedure.

But, she’s just fine, so they tell her.

She’s scheduled for another look-see in about 6 months.

TMI - I’ve had abnormal pap smears and one colposcopy, going in for another in a few weeks. (I was normal, then an abnormal, then back to normal for a while, another abnormal (come and see us every 3 months), an abnormal, a colposcopy (completely normal), a “normal enough for anyone who had no history of abnormals to be considered normal,” and an abnormal - hence the next colposcopy) The colposcopy felt pinchy… it hurt, but it wasn’t absolutely awful.

One thing that they’ve told me every time one of mine is abnormal is that it takes years for it to grow from mildly abnormal to precancerous to cancerous assuming your abnormalities aren’t benign. So, the most important thing is to stay on top of it, by getting regular pap smears in the first place, and make sure that they’re checking on you regularly if one does end up . (As one of them put it “No one needs to die from cervical cancer.”) You’re on top of it right now - you’ll be fine. It’s been caught, and they’re taking appropriate steps.

And it is true that most abnormalities end up being nothing and clear up entirely on their own. I’m still sending good thoughts and prayers out to you.

bupwife had an abnormal one, then two, then four.

She had pre-cancerous growth. Very scary. They froze part of her cervix.

That was twelve years and two children ago. Even the ‘worst-case scenarios’ may not be the end of the world…

Very common procedure actually - colposcopy’s are no fun, but necessary. The majority of the time the abnormal pap’s are caused by Dysplasia (same virus that causes genital warts, but does not take on that form - HPV). Once they “laser” the bad cells off, you are usually ok - but make sure to take care of yourself - most likely your partner is a carrier of this virus (VERY common in males) but go figure the females get to deal with it. Or else you could have received it years ago and just now are getting the signs. Chances are very slim that you have cancer or that it will turn cancerous.

Oh yeah - and your Dr’s office needs to learn some damn bedside manners!!

Been there. The colposcopy itself is mildly uncomfortable, like an extended pelvic exam, and it does cause some cramping afterwards. I found the cramping to be as bad as moderate menstrual cramps, nothing that a couple of Advil couldn’t handle. The freezing procedure, if they do that, is more unpleasant, and be warned that you’ll have discomfort for a few days afterwards and you’ll need to wear a pad because you’ll be leaking clear fluid. They don’t always tell you about that part.

My abnormal paps turned out to be caused by a mild bacterial infection that had irritated the surface of the cervix, and another time by a yeast infection. Don’t panic, it can be caused by something that minor. I was very young at the time, and scared to death by the possibility that it could be cancerous. If I had it to do over again, and knew what I know now, I wouldn’t have had the freezing procedure done right away. I would have waited for another, more definitive abnormal pap or colposcopy.

Yup, been there done that too. I had a pap come back with “pre-cancerous” cells about 2 years ago. Repeat pap, same thing.

I had a colposcopy (which, incidentally, revealed nothing, even though 2 paps showed “pre-cancerous” cells), and didn’t find it to be too horrible. Not something I’d do for fun, of course, but pain was very minimal, nothing at all like my normal monthly cramps. Just a small sharp pain and some cramps, then done.

Since those results were inconclusive, I had another colpo. Same deal, nothing major. I went for cryosurgery shortly after that, where they use this probe thingy and freeze your cervix with nitrous oxide. Let me tell you, that was an interesting experience. Again, not particularly painful… mild cramping, but that was it. But the recovery process was kinda icky. A ball of ice forms on your cervix, and slowly melts over the course of the day. And basically your cervix is an open wound till it heals. So there’s all sorts of lovely… healing going on. Not painful, just kinda icky. The most amusing thing I heard then was when the doctor told me “don’t put anything in there for a month or so” (obviously meaning tampons, etc.)… I was like “Damn, where will I keep my keys?”

I think the worst part of the whole ordeal was that I kept having this stuff done to me on a regular basis. My poor cervix was being poked and prodded on an almost biweekly basis for a few months. Then snipped, frozen, snipped again… oy. Plus, during the healing period (usually 3-4 weeks), no sex. That was also not fun. (Part of the “not putting anything in there”.) But I survived.

After the cryo, my results were still abnormal. I was going to go for LEEP and all that, but I lost my health insurance and all that fun stuff. So I really can’t afford to have any of this fun stuff done.

Good luck, if you have questions, feel free to email…

I also had the colposcopy followed by the freezing procedure after an abnormal Pap ten years ago. I’ve had yearly Pap smears ever since and they have all been entirely normal. Something as simple as a yeast infection can cause abnormal Pap smears. Of course, make sure to go through with the colposcopy to make sure it is nothing serious. I didn’t have any problems with the colposcopy other than some very mild cramping. Of course, I’m not telling you anything that all of the other ladies have already mentioned. I’m not going to tell you not to worry because I remember being very worried myself. But most of these tests turn out to be completely benign, so the odds are in your favor.

Two years ago, I had a abnormal pap. The doctor did a pap smear when I went in for my six-week checkup after my son was born (because it was just about time for my yearly anyway–as she phrased it, “since you’re here, and while I’m down there…”).

They called my home number a few days later. I was at work. They were very hesitant to give my husband any information. They just said that it was very important that I call them back regarding my pap smear. My husband pulled his weight as THE HUSBAND and said “listen, this is my wife you’re talking about. Tell me what to tell her when I give her your message.” They finally told him that my pap was abnormal. He called me right away, and I called them back.

I spoke to the doctor herself. I had never had an abnormal pap, ever (and my son was my fifth pregnancy, third full-term), so I was a bit FREAKED, like you are. I asked the doctor if the pregnancy could have caused the abnormalities, and she said she honestly didn’t think so, because the abnormality was too pronounced, an she wants me to have a colposcopy.

It wasn’t comfortable, but it wasn’t horrible. I don’t remember if I cramped or not, to be honest. I did end up having a LEEP done. I remember the doctor explaining to me how there ay be a little smoke during the procedure, but that was perfectly normal, and not to worry. I laughed. She looked at me very oddly, and I said “I’m sorry, but smoke and my cervix are two things I just never associated with each other.” She thought for a moment, then laughed herself. “No, I don’t suppose you would, would you?” she said.

Anyhoo, the surgery was simple. It hurt, yes. Like a very hard pinch on your cervix. It made me say “OW!” which I didn’t even do when my last two kids were born. But it was over very, very quickly. The pinchy-pain only lasted for a second or two. There was some cramping afterwards, but it wasn’t bad. For me, it was milder than menstrual cramps (YMMV, though). I took the rest of the day off work, but I was able to go to work the next day with no problem. I’ve had no problem since then, either, and it’ll be two years come January.

Hope everything ges well for you, Beadalin!

Thank you again, everyone. I’m not nearly as scared as I was when I got the letter (or posted this thread, for that matter). You guys are the best.

Please allow me to give a tip 'o the hat to your ladies. I don’t think I could tolerate “pinching, cramping, resecting, probing, freezing, lasering, scabbing, smoke!, etc.,” associated with my plumbing.

Y’all are something else.

::: deep, reverent bow :::

Had this done after an abnormal pap smear.

I later moved and when getting my surgical followup, I got in on the tail end of a research study done by a doctor studying cervial dyplasia. She told me that freezing/conization/LEEP is a good aggressive procedure to address dysplasia BUT may not be necessary. Some doctors believe in just keeping an eye on things, seeing if the body heals itself. And sometimes it does. I tell you this so you won’t flip and think your doctor is lax if this is his/her preference.

Question for some of you: I thought a colposcopy was simply looking up your hoo-haw with a light and a magnifying lens on the top of a scope. A biospy is a different thing (though it might happen in conjunction with a colposcopy). Am I wrong about this? I had repeated colposcopies when I was in this research study and they were no big deal–just a pap smear with slightly differnt apparatus. But I only had one biospy.

When I had the LEEP done I was amazed how many people came out of the woodwork to tell similar stories. When I heard “abnormal pap smear” I freaked, because I had no idea how common that can be and how many other women had been there. Best advice I got: no one told me how much, uh, weepy discharge there would be (sort of clearish stuff, like comes off a burn). I had several weeks of it and would have thought it was a bad sign if other women hadn’t told me it’s normal.