What if I have an abnormal Pap smear?

First, you should know that abnormal Pap tests are common. They are just an initial test, and most people with an abnormal Pap test do not have cancer. If your Pap test has cells that look "abnormal," your provider can follow up with another test to find out for sure what is going on.

Your provider might suggest that you have another follow-up Pap test or a test called a colposcopy. 

Another Pap test at 6 to 12 months – Sometimes a Pap test shows cells that could be either normal or abnormal. If you wait a few months and have another Pap test, you could find that the cells are back to normal. You might also need an HPV test at the same time.

A colposcopy – For this test, the doctor will use a speculum to look at your cervix, just like during a Pap smear. But they will look more closely using a device that looks like a microscope. It allows the doctor to see the cervix in more detail. During this test, the doctor will take tiny samples of tissue from the cervix. This is called a "biopsy." Tissue from the biopsy goes to the lab and will be checked for anything abnormal.

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