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Pap smear & colposcopy- are they different?
Feb 9, 2003

Hello, I am very confused on my test results and would appreciate if you could shed some light. At 4 months following unprotected sex I was tested for std's- HIV, Hepatitis, syphilis etc and was given a Pap smear. All my blood work was fine, but my Pap smear came back as abnormal with CIN2-3. I saw a specialist a month and a half later and had a colposcopy done, a Pap smear, cervical biospy, and retested for stds and blood work again at 6 months for HIV, hepatitis, etc. Blood work was fine and this time all my Pap smears, cervical biospy etc. were normal. Had another Pap smear and colposcopy a month later and it was normal. I don't know if I was tested for HPV. Did I ever have dysplasia, do I have a HPV infection? I am very confused, please help me.

Response from Dr. Dezube

What you are describing is not all that unusual. Pap smear is a means by which cells are scraped off from your cervix. A cytologist (a doctor who specializes in looking at cells) then decides whether they are cancerous or pre-cancerous looking. Pap smears are pretty good, but they are not as good as colposcopy and biopsy. For this reason, a Pap smear tells the health care provider whom s/he should refer for colposcopy and biopsy. A colposcopy is a procedure by which a health care provider looks at the cells of the cervix using a microscope. Often providers will biopsy any suspicious areas. A biopsy is a more accurate procedure that a Pap smear. Since it sounds like you have had two negative colposcopies, you should be okay. You may have had an HPV infection which cleared. The majority of women who get an HPV infection actually clear them. It is a minority of women who develop a chronic, persistent HPV infection. Given your two negative colposcopies, I do not believe that you need anything more at this time. Since you indicated that you had unprotected sex, I would urge you to speak to your provider about this. Protected sex would have avoided much of the grief you are going through.


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