I am a 29 yo woman with an excellent health record until this year. In Feb., I had tennis ball sized ovarian cysts that burst, which led to emergency abdominal surgery to suture the ovary, & remove the cysts, blood clots, and other icky things. I have been on birth control pills since then to give my ovaries a break (the cysts were follicular/egg sac cysts).
Two weeks ago, I started feeling alternative aches & pain deep on my left side, where I think my ovary is. I saw my gyno, who assured me that everything was fine.
Yesterday, the doc calls me because he saw “something” in my Pap smear, but isn’t sure what it is. I need to go in Thursday for a biopsy which, he said, will be quite painful but necessary.
I am scared to death. Please, if anyone has been through this before, can you tell me what it was like and how everything turned out? My previous surgery and subsequent recovery were excruciating. My hands are shaking as I type this. Thank you so much.
Okay, first of all, please accept this hug for all you’ve been through and the fear you are feeling now.
Now, onto the talking. An abnormal pap smear sounds so scary, like you’ve been punched in the gut. But you know, they are common and they are not necessarily anything to worry about. That later statement is especially true for anyone who is getting good sound gynecological care, which it sounds like you have been. Pap smears are designed to catch things BEFORE they get dangerous, and they work.
I had an abnormal pap smear which resulted in a biopsy (I wouldn’t say it was “quite painful” either, though my cervix certainly felt it was rude treatment). I then had laser surgery to have the weird patch removed. This was done at the hospital but on an outpatient basis, with some sort of IV sedative given. I had 4 or more weeks of weepy gross discharge (sorry fellas), some follow-up with a doctor who was doing a study of cervical dyplasia, and that is the last I have heard of it. No cancer, no problems with my cervix (in fact, that bastard piece of tissue is a little TOO robust–we could barely get my son born), nothing but a clean bill of health.
I will also note that the doctor who did the follow-up study said that more and more doctors aren’t even recommending surgery right away. Some of them prefer to just keep an eye on the cervix (um, not literally, of course) and see if it heals itself, which is not uncommon.
So… an abnormal pap smear does not equal cancer. It may not even equal surgery, although surgery may be the way to go and even then it’s not necessarily a huge deal. Obviously I can’t speak for your case but I do know there are about a dozen Dopers who will come in here and give you a similar story. It’s been discussed before (not that I EVER mind revisiting this topid–when I got the call from my doctor I freaked, but I came to found out a large number of women I knew had had the same experience–we just don’t tend to talk much about our hoo-hoos. It’s a shame, sort of)
I didn’t go thru the same thing, but I did have to have a complete hysterectomy when I was 35. Had I been more diligent about annual checkups in my 20s, I may have avoided it.
Based on my experience and those of my 3 sisters, including one who’s facing surgery in 2 weeks, having emergency surgery is MUCH more difficult than planned surgery, and recovery tends to take longer. (bear in mind, this is a small sample of anecdotal experience) Seems to me that trust in your doctor is of primary importance - get a second opinion to allay your fears if necessary. But if surgery is inevitable, do exactly as you’re told, try not to worry too much, and don’t rush your recovery.
I know you’re scared. We don’t like going thru this sort of thing. But if you have a good doctor and you educate yourself, it should go a long way towards calming your fears. Be thankful you live in an age of medical wonders. Now, take a deep breath, turn off your emotions, and deal with it rationally. (I know, easily said)
Do try not to make yourself crazy with worry. You’re young, and with the right outlook, you’ll come thru it just fine. I’m sending good vibes your way, and a friendly pat on the hand. I’m sure it’ll all work out fine. Take care of yourself…
Don’t freak out about an abnormal Pap test.
Like Cranky said, it’s not uncommon and just about every woman I know has had one, myself included.
I also had a biopsy and it wasn’t that bad…it felt like a little pinch. I was fine afterwards, except for feeling sorry for myself. (I cured that with chocolate ice cream.)
The word biopsy scared me, it brought to mind cancer and all sorts of bad things but really, it’s just a fancy word for testing tissue.
I’m sure you’ll be just fine.
I wouldn’t call the biopsy painful either. It was very uncomfortable but mostly like a quick pinch(and I have a low pain tolerance.) I had cramps and a little bleeding afterwards, but it wasn’t even as bad as a period.
I am not a doctor (or even close), but if you have been getting regular pap smears before I bet this isn’t anything to worry about. A pap smear catches “abnormal” cells way before there is any real danger. pap smears often come back abnormal for no real reason at all. My doctor didn’t even do the biopsy until I had two bad pap smears in six months.
My doctor chose to do the “keep an eye” on it thing rather then jump into surgery. Even if they do the surgery I was told that it wasn’t that bad. Get it done on a Friday, take it easy over the weekend, go back to work on Monday.
Try not to stress. Take a hot bath tonight and have a glass of wine.
(Have you considered changing doctors? Your current doctor doesn’t seem to be very nice. He should explain things better to you rather then scare you. There is no reason why you should jump into surgery if he recommends it. Get a second opinion from another doctor or even a specialist. Get a doctor how make you feel better, not one who makes your hands shake when you get off the phone.)
I have had a series of abnormal pap smears, pinch biopsies, and two LEEP surgeries. It isn’t so bad…good luck to you.
Thank you all for your kind words and thoughtful gestures. I had my biopsy yesterday, and it wasn’t as painful or frightening as I expected. I really worked myself up into a lather! The doctor explained the entire process as she was going along.
I will say it’s an odd sensation to be poked someplace that hasn’t been touched before (cervix). I will know the results in 2 weeks, though my doc thinks my dysplasia is mild, and won’t require any treatment.