My Pap Smear Results Were Abnormal — Now What?

At New Beginnings OB-GYN, we use a Pap smear — or Pap test — to monitor your cervical health. Your cervix is above your vagina at the very bottom of your uterus. When we do this test, we’re looking for specific changes in your cervical cells that could turn into cancer down the road. 

Because Pap smears are a preventive screening for cervical cancer, we understand how scary it can be to get abnormal results. However, even if you have an abnormal Pap smear, it rarely means you have cancer. 

Here’s what your Pap results might mean, and how we move forward if you have an abnormal test.

Understanding your Pap results

When you have a Pap smear, your results are either normal (negative) or abnormal (positive). Abnormal results mean there were irregularities found in your cervical cells. In many cases, they're because of the human papillomavirus, or HPV.

HPV is a common sexually transmitted disease directly linked to cervical cancer. With regular Pap testing, however, we can watch for signs of cervical changes early on and treat them before they progress or become life-threatening.

Other common causes of abnormal Pap tests include:

You can also get what’s called a “false positive” result. To avoid this, don’t use tampons and feminine products like suppositories, creams, and sprays in the days leading up to your appointment. You should also abstain from sexual intercourse.

What comes next

If you have an abnormal Pap, we make different recommendations based on whether your results were low- or high-grade. Low-grade results mean we found only a slight abnormality in some of your cells. When you have high-grade results, they indicate your cells are significantly more unusual and could develop into cancer in the future. 

Depending on your results, we might recommend another Pap, colposcopy, or removing the abnormal cells altogether.

Another Pap smear

Sometimes, all you need is another Pap smear so we can reevaluate your cervical cells. This is often done in combination with HPV testing so we can look for the presence of an infection.


A colposcopy gives us a more detailed look at your cervix. During this procedure, we examine your cervix under magnification to differentiate areas with normal and abnormal tissue. When you have a colposcopy, we can also take tissue samples for additional testing.

Removing abnormal cells

In some cases, we might recommend removing your abnormal cervical cells to keep them from becoming cancerous. We typically use two different methods: cryosurgery and loop electrosurgical excision (LEEP). Cryosurgery removes abnormal cells by freezing, and LEEP uses a small wire charged with electricity.

If additional testing indicates the presence of cervical cancer, we work closely with you to determine the next steps in your treatment strategy.

To learn more about Pap smears and protecting your cervical health, request an appointment here on our New Beginnings OB-GYN website, or give us a call to schedule your consultation at our Las Vegas office.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Which STDs Cause Pelvic Pain?

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a common risk if you’re sexually active. For women, many of these diseases can also lead to many unpleasant side effects and complications, like pelvic pain.

Common Signs and Effective Treatments for HIV

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) damages your immune system, and leads to the more dangerous acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) which has killed millions. Read on to learn about the signs and treatments for HIV.

The Good News About Bacterial Vaginosis

A healthy vagina uses microorganisms to help defend us against things that can cause infection, including bacteria. Upsetting the balance can lead to problems like bacterial vaginosis. Fortunately, it is easily treated.

Are Bothersome Menopause Symptoms Inevitable?

Menopause is something all women go through, but no two experiences are exactly alike. While many women deal with unpleasant symptoms, you may be wondering if they are guaranteed to happen or if there’s any way to avoid them.

Do I Have a Hormone Imbalance?

Your hormones are responsible for regulating and maintaining a lot of things that go on in your body, and any imbalance can create problems. How do you know if you have a hormone imbalance, and what can you do if so?