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Abnormal

by Meghann on March 5, 2013

Two weeks ago I got a call no one ever wants to get after their annual womanly exam, my pap test came back abnormal. I had spots of mild dysplasia around my cervix and would need to return for a colposcopy to further diagnose the cells. I’m mentioning this here because, after all the wonderful feedback I received on my pap test post, I wanted to share about this experience as well.

This wasn’t my first abnormal pap test. I had one in college and it honestly scared the crap out of me. I jumped to worst case scenarios (as all 20 year olds would do) and automatically assumed something bad was going to happen. At the time I kept everything to myself. Not long after the abnormal diagnosis, I had a colposcopy to confirm everything was okay and was eventually able to go on to normal pap tests for the years that followed… until now.

Back then I was scared and alone, having never met someone that went through a similar experience. As I grew older, I quickly learned that abnormal pap tests weren’t terribly that abnormal of an occurrence. A few friends of mine have had similar abnormal results as well over the years. They were like I was in college, scared and not sure what to expect. For some reason I think telling them I’d had an abnormal pap too (and everything worked out in the end) helped them relax and stop jumping to worst case scenarios like I had.

However, even after going through this experience previously, I still found myself a little nervous about the abnormal results. I think losing a friend so recently to cervical cancer made everything feel more real. But this is why the pap tests are so important in the first place, to catch those abnormal cells early, monitor them, and make sure they don’t become anything serious. I reminded myself of those facts and calmed my nerves.

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(source)

I returned to my gynecologist this afternoon for my colposcopy, which is a magnified exam of the cervix to detect abnormal cells so biopsies can be taken. It’s a procedure to confirm my mild dysplasia was just mild and not moderate or higher. If it’s mild they’ll monitor the cells with the belief they’ll clear up on their own. If the results come back moderate or above, I’ll have to return for a LEEP procedure to cut out abnormal tissue.

The colposcopy was uncomfortable, but not scary. I love my gynecologist, Dr. Kathy. She walked me through the procedure before we started, then kept me in the loop of everything as it was happening. There was some pretty bad cramping in the beginning that made me very uncomfortable, but it eventually faded. I was happy there were no sharp pains, just the cramping.

From what I could tell the procedure was a success in gathering the cells to be biopsied. I was able to leave the doctor’s office less than an hour after I arrived and by then all the cramping was gone – I felt great.

Now I have to wait two weeks for the results. Dr. Kathy seemed very optimistic that the results would come back mild and blamed the abnormal flare up on recent stress (like planning a wedding). I’m crossing my fingers she’s right. If that’s the case I’ll just return in 6 months for another pap test. No biggie.

Have you ever had an abnormal pap test? Were you nervous?

{ 76 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Steph March 5, 2013 at 10:45 pm

I had the same procedure a few years ago when my pap came back abnormal. Yes, it is uncomfortable and a bit painful, but it was over with relatively quick and my results came back fine. I’ve had normal paps ever since. It is definitely a scary situation, but I think it’s nowhere near actually being diagnosed with something more serious. Prevention is definitely the key. Fingers crossed for good news!
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2 claire chapman hay March 5, 2013 at 10:50 pm

I have a friend who had an abnormal pap and her gyno automatically suggested a partial hysterectomy… I mean WHAT!? Luckily she got a second opinion and ended up just getting a colpo and a LEEP and now is fine! I also had an abnormal pap last summer and ended up getting a LEEP done last October. It was scary but it was over quickly and I go back for a re-pap next week, so fingers crossed! Good luck to you, it’s definitely important to keep those lady parts healthy!
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3 Mrs. Swan March 5, 2013 at 10:53 pm

I ONLY get normal paps when I am pregnant. I don’t stress about the abnormal anymore. Like you I freaked out the first time.
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4 Chelsea March 5, 2013 at 10:54 pm

Hey Meghann, I’ve been reading your blog for a year or two now and I think this is my first comment. Stay strong and optimistic! And thank you for being so open with your health and other uncomfortable topics most people shy away from. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!

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5 Tara March 5, 2013 at 11:17 pm

I have had I think four colposcopies in the past. And many abnormal pap smears. I think you will be just fine. I am glad you have such a great doctor. It is so important.

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6 Casey March 5, 2013 at 11:25 pm

Oh I am so sorry this happened to you. It happened to me a year ago and it was literally the scariest thing I went through. It didn’t matter how many people told me they went through the same thing and that everything was fine – I was still scared. Even having said that, I can only say the same thing to you: it will be fine. It is easy to overreact and scare ourselves and create the worst case scenario in our heads – but in two weeks when you find all is well you will feel silly for putting yourself through such stress. After tormenting myself by searching the web and over-thinking everything, it all turned out fine. I found that talking to others who went through the same thing, leaning on family/friends, and WINE helps ease the worry ๐Ÿ™‚
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7 Merideth March 5, 2013 at 11:25 pm

I underwent a LEEP when I was 20, although it was frightening at the time, it was the best decision made. I am lucky to report that I have had a clean bill of health on my paps for nearly 15 years since! Wishing you best of luck!

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8 Margaret March 5, 2013 at 11:31 pm

I just got results yesterday of an abnormal pap smear. ๐Ÿ™ My doctor’s really great, up front about what the options are, that it’s serious to keep it eye on it, but not super serious in that I’m now on the way to getting cancer or anything. She’s not recommending a colposcopy yet – I’m taking supplements to improve immune function, and doing another pap smear in three months. Kind of nervous about it, but the test results were still “low grade” abnormalities, so apparently the majority of time it should go away on it’s own, but have to keep checking to make sure if it goes, and take action if it gets worse.
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9 Becky @ runfundone March 5, 2013 at 11:33 pm

Hopefully it all comes back okay! I’ve never had an abnormal pap, but I think it makes sense to be concerned!
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10 kim March 5, 2013 at 11:36 pm

Ughhhhhh that was me a few years ago. LEEP is not pleasant, esp if you are so freaked out you can’t calm down to do it in office and need to get put under for it (me! ๐Ÿ™ ) email me if you want to chat. It is not the end of the world but can be scary at times! wishing you the best.
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11 Stephanie @ Steph's Miles March 5, 2013 at 11:38 pm

Yes, I had abnormal test results from my pap and in turn had a colposcopy last summer. I was terrified. When my six-month check up pap came back clear, I cried tears of joy and relief. I know the results may come back abnormal again, but I’m trying to stay consistent with supplements to promote a healthy system. Best of luck to you, I’m sure the results will be ok and I thank you for always being so honest on your blog.
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12 Sarah March 5, 2013 at 11:45 pm

I’m the one that recognized the GYN office from your picture and tweeted you about it…you’re at TWG, right? If so, “Dr. Kathy” isn’t a doctor…she’s a nurse practitioner. (I know that because I saw her at TWG when I lived in Tampa. Just a little nitpick, maybe you could edit your post?) But I completely agree with you – she’s pretty awesome!

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13 Lauren March 6, 2013 at 12:01 am

I went through this last summer/fall. Unfortunately my biopsy came back that my cells were high risk and I had to have it taken care of immediately. I did not have the LEEP procedure though as my doctor was nervous that it would greatly impact my ability to have children. At 26, he thought it would be better to freeze the cells and eliminate the amount the LEEP procedure would have to remove. It was very scary and I had so much pain that I was pretty out of it after the procedure. It makes me feel better knowing others have experienced this too because at the time (even after talking to my mom and friends) I felt like I was the only one!

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14 Ashley Y March 6, 2013 at 1:09 am

I had a LEEP procedure a few years ago after it was determined that my abnormal cells were CIN 2 and CIN 3. After the LEEP, I have had a normal PAP smear, and my new doctor said she would not have known about the LEEP, if I hadn’t mentioned it. Good luck with everything!

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15 Sally March 6, 2013 at 1:40 am

Thanks for writing about this Meghann. It makes me feel better ‘knowing’ someone else went through it. I haven’t had an abnormal test but I know I would be frightened if I had one. I get so nervous about Pap tests and any gynecological exam, like can’t sleep for the week before, but they are so important. Thanks for the reminder that it isn’t really a big deal ๐Ÿ™‚

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16 Magda March 6, 2013 at 3:35 am

I had an abnormal pap result a few years ago. I distinctly remember the doctor calling me when we were picking flowers for our wedding. Talk about perfect timing ๐Ÿ˜‰ Of course I was scared to death. The doc didn’t want to tell me the exact results over the phone, he just said that further diagnosis was required, but I kind of squeezed it out of him that it wasn’t cancer, just some abnormal cells. Still, I was freaking out and thinking about worst case scenarios. The gyn actually laughed at me a bit – he said that my approach was like imagining yourself dead every time you have a fever ๐Ÿ˜‰ The told me that most likely it wasn’t anything serious and colposcopy confirmed that he was right. Since then I had abnormal results once, but I didn’t even have colposcopy the second time – I was just told to come back in 3 months or something and the next pap result was OK.

I’m sure you’ll be all right – apparently most of the abnormal results aren’t really that much abnormal ๐Ÿ˜‰ Take care ๐Ÿ™‚

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17 PeachyLau March 6, 2013 at 3:40 am

Fingers crossed…
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18 Erin March 6, 2013 at 3:55 am

Wishing you the best of luck. I hope it’s nothing serious.
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19 Grazia March 6, 2013 at 3:57 am

I had an abnormal pap test few years ago and I wasn’t nervous… I was terrified!!! But luckily from the colposcopy things turned out all right. So try to think positive ๐Ÿ™‚

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20 katie March 6, 2013 at 6:33 am

Thinking of you love! I know the test will come back ok, so no worry!

I had an abnormal pap 3 years ago, had the same two procedures as well, the LEEP was not so fun, haha!

I have had all normal paps since then and sometimes things like that just happen, thats why so important to go to gyno every year. I go twice a year, ever since I had that abnormal pap, just to be safe!

<3
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21 Karen March 6, 2013 at 6:47 am

I’ve never had an abnormal test but several friends and family members have and have returned with nothing serious. The waiting is the worst part so hopefully you here back soon!
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22 Dee March 6, 2013 at 6:54 am

I had this happen last year. I think the scariest thing was that my doc insisted on using the word “pre-cancerous.” It turned out to be nothing, and then I just felt silly for stressing so much. Hoping for the best for you, lady!

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23 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats March 6, 2013 at 7:20 am

It’s great that you’ve shared this, I’ve never had anything abnormal but my best friend during college did and she was so freaked out! It turned out to be nothing of concern though, so I think it’s important that we share these experiences so other women don’t feel like their circumstances are abnormal.
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24 jule March 6, 2013 at 7:28 am

not to be too nosy, but – did you and derek have sex the night before your pap? if you did – that’s what’s most likely causing the abnormal results. you’re supposed to abstain the night before a pap!!!

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25 Cindy March 6, 2013 at 7:33 am

The first test I ever had came back abnormal. The doctor called me at home and told me that I had cancer. I was shocked and totally freaked out. I was 18. I went back for a second test and it came back completely fine. I couldn’t believe I was called on the phone and told I had cancer without there being absolute proof! I had to go back every 3 months for a year for repeat tests and then every 6 months for a year. I’ve been fine ever since.

I hope your follow up goes well!
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26 Toni March 6, 2013 at 7:35 am

I really admire you for writing about this. It’s an important topic and can be really scary — like you, I had an abnormal back in college and it terrified me. Thanks for being so open and encouraging people to talk about these issues.

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27 Vivian March 6, 2013 at 7:42 am

I have had 2 abnormal paps, both were the firsts paps postpartum. It’s scary when you hear the results, but with all the posts, I’m sure you see that it’s not uncommon, which for me is always a plus, because if I’m a rare case, I get even more nervous! From what my OB said, most of the time, all is fine, but in the event something is wrong, you’ve caught it early. My SIL also had one when she was in college and was nervous that it’d affect her ability to get pregnant or have children. Her OB said it wouldn’t, and she was right! (Just throwing that out there since some people worry about the same thing).

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28 steph March 6, 2013 at 8:13 am

I really appreciate your candor with this topic.

Last year, I had an abnormal pap that showed I had HPV. I was devastated, particularly because at the time I had only been with two men. I fell into depression and really let it take over my life for a while. But as time has gone on I realize as long as I am diligent about getting exams, it’s not that big of a deal.

Thank you.

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29 Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution March 6, 2013 at 11:56 am

Just in the interest of not giving out information that isn’t 100% true, abnormal pap tests are not a test for HPV. A lot of doctors will tell you this, because HPV is BY FAR (like, 99.9%) the biggest cause of an abnormal pap. However, it’s not an HPV test. HPV tests, in fact, aren’t even given that often because a) they aren’t that accurate and b) the fact that HPV is so ubiquitous now.

I don’t doubt that your doctor told you that your abnormal pap was due to presence of HPV, and that is probably true (I had an abnormal pap recently and my doctor said the same thing, but he was also very clear to say that HPV isn’t the only cause of abnormal paps and he would much rather deal with the root of the issue (the abnormal, precancerous cells) than give an HPV test.
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30 Heather March 6, 2013 at 9:10 pm

I just wanted to clarify a bit about paps and HPV. I’m a family medicine doctor, and I went to medical school with Meghann’s twin brother Josh. You are absolutely right that paps do not test for HPV. If a patient is between the ages of 21-29, we initially only send off a pap smear. If that pap smear comes back abnormal, the sample (that was collected during the pap smear) is automatically sent to be tested for HPV. If a patient is 30 or older, we automatically send the sample collected during a pap smear both to pathology for assessment of the pap smear and to microbiology for assessment of whether or not HPV is present. The only exception to this is that some doctors choose to use the same method of testing for patients over 30 as they do for patients 21-29…however, if they do this, they should be doing pap smears more often than if they do the automatic testing of every sample from a patient 30 and older for both pathology and microbiology. So, although a pap smear definitely does not assess for HPV, any patient who has an abnormal pap will be assessed for whether or not they have HPV. If your doctor tells you that you have had an abnormal pap smear, he or she should be able to tell you quite definitely whether or not you have HPV because they will have already assessed this with the sample that was collected during your pap smear. I hope that is helpful and clarifies a bit about why a doctor may tell you that you do or do not have HPV. Even though the actual pap smear does not test for HPV, any abnormal pap automatically triggers a separate test for HPV.

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31 Melissa @TryingtoHeal March 6, 2013 at 8:18 am

I know easier said than done, but try not to worry too much! I used to get abnormal tests all the time and really, nothing was wrong. Stress can come in any shape and form, especially when it comes to our insides!
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32 Jennfifer March 6, 2013 at 8:41 am

Thank you so much for writing about this! I had an abnormal pap last week (I am a 22 year old graduate student at your alma matter, FSU!) and panicked. I am going back for my colposcopy next week and after I made the appointment I started crying, these things can make a person feel so alone. I’m so happy you posted your experiences and exactly what happened, it really eased my fears! ๐Ÿ™‚

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33 caitie March 6, 2013 at 8:59 am

I knew abnormal tests were common but now that I am reading I see just how common! I had my results come back abnormal (HPV) a few weeks ago, got the colposcopy, and today am going in for the LEEP procedure! Good to know I am not alone but I have no idea what to expect out of this procedure (pain wise, etc.)

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34 Paula @ Eat: Watch: Run March 6, 2013 at 9:01 am

I had an abnormal one once and they never even recommended I’m come in for anything else. I thought that was strange, but I was young enough not to really question it. It must have been a fluke because they have all been normal since then.
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35 Carolyn March 6, 2013 at 9:03 am

I wish I had read this when I was 23. My old GYN first assumed I knew what HPV was, and then blamed me while doing the colposcopy. Actually said “well if you didn’t sleep around this wouldn’t have happened.” Between that and the pain I started crying in the chair – and I had been with less than 5 people at the time! To make matters worse, I developed an infection from the procedure. Luckily I switched to a much larger, more urban and open minded practice. It was such a relief to not have to go every 6 months after a couple years.

Sorry for the book, I really just wanted to say thank you!

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36 Meghann March 6, 2013 at 9:33 am

This story breaks my heart. I’m so happy to hear you were able to find a practice with a little more sensitivity and an open mind.

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37 Lauren March 6, 2013 at 12:45 pm

๐Ÿ™

I’m so sorry you went through that. A doctor’s role should NEVER be to moralize. Very glad to hear that you’ve now found a better, more compassionate doctor.

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38 Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution March 6, 2013 at 1:12 pm

That’s awful! My sister-in-law had a similar experience. Luckily my doctor was super nice, I can’t imagine going through the colposcopy/LEEP with such a jerk!
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39 Magda March 6, 2013 at 9:21 am

Hmmm… It’s really strange, because I had colposcopy once but I don’t remember any pain or anything unpleasant at all (well, the gyn checkup itself is hardly pleasant, but you get my point…). I think there was not much more going on than the doc looking into my cervix through a kind of microscope or something similar. I also got the result right away, basically while sitting in the gyn chair…

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40 Meghann March 6, 2013 at 9:30 am

Discomfort and pain vary by person for the colposcopy procedure. I didn’t have any pain, but I did have bad cramping that felt similar to bad period cramps. The cramps went away almost as done as the procedure was done. When it was over, I was told what she thought it was, but couldn’t get a 100% diagnoses until the biopsies were tested at the lab.

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41 Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution March 6, 2013 at 1:11 pm

I just had a colposcopy a year ago, and my experience was the same. A bit of discomfort/cramping, and I didn’t get the results back for a week or so.
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42 Mrs. Swan March 6, 2013 at 8:34 pm

My first one was much like everyone described. The DR usually takes a bit of the tissue (biopsy) to send off for testing. (hence everyone waiting for results) My DR then put a medicine on the cut that looked like PB going in and coffee grounds coming out (DR warned me so I wouldn’t be alarmed) With my 2nd one (different DR) he just looked at everything and said nothing looked normal. Just like your experience. (Of course he also answered his cell phone with my legs splayed open in front of him @@- nurse took his phone from belt and held it to his ear)
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43 KatieTX March 6, 2013 at 9:27 am

Did your doctor mention the first time if you had HPV or not? Many abnormal pap results are caused by the presence of HPV…mine was. Luckily my body took care of getting rid of the virus as most healthy young bodies can. Maybe you don’t want to share if you came back positive for HPV, but I think it is important to note since 80% of woman at some time in their lives have HPV. Also, once you start talking about this topic, it is so surprising how many young women deal with abnormal paps.

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44 Beth March 6, 2013 at 9:30 am

I had abnormal pap once before. It wound up being nothing so I hope it’s the same for you. Glad to see that your doc is optimistic it’s just from stress. ๐Ÿ™‚

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45 Natalie @ Free Range Human March 6, 2013 at 9:38 am

I had an abnormal test a few years ago, and it was really scary. I think the natural inclination is to jump to all the possible scary scenarios, but everything turned out fine. I’m hoping it does for you as well!
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46 Jen March 6, 2013 at 9:39 am

1) I LOVE that you’re talking about this. 2) I really hope you’re OK. Just said a prayer!
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47 Theodora March 6, 2013 at 9:45 am

Thanks for sharing this. I’ve had a colposcopy before, too. They definitely sound a lot scarier than they actually are.
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48 Emily March 6, 2013 at 10:17 am

So sorry to hear this, anything abnormal like this is super scary! I’ve had a few abnormal pap tests before and luckily everything turned out ok.

I had an exam once and was told there was a lump on my cervix and a sonogram later, I was told I needed to go to the best woman’s hospital in the area to confirm. After convincing myself I’d never have children (this was a month after my wedding!), I found out the 1st sonogram was read inaccurately and there was no lump there at all. The week time frame between tests took about 5 years off my life!

Sending positive thoughts your way <3
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49 Wendy March 6, 2013 at 10:18 am

It is scary to hear the words “abnormal pap” becaucase of course our minds wander to the worst case scenario. I had the experience 6 years ago. While the LEEP wasnt a pleasant experience, my least favorite part was having to go in for a pap every 6 months instead of yearly. Thankfully that didnt last long though and I am back on a normal schedule and have had no other abnormal readings since. Good luck with your results!!!!!

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50 Jess March 6, 2013 at 10:19 am

I went through the same thing last fall (and missed swimming for two weeks for it!). Kathy is awesome, isn’t she?! Thanks for keeping the conversation going – this is so important!

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51 Meghann March 6, 2013 at 10:21 am

I was really bummed when I read no swimming for two weeks! I was so proud of myself for remembering all my swim gear before I went to the doctor, too! Not fair.

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52 Regina March 6, 2013 at 10:22 am

I’m so glad people are finally talking more candidly about this! It’s so common now and yet it seems to be one of those issues no one wants to discuss. In October 2009 I had my first abnormal pap smear. I had my colposcopy that same month but unlike you, my results came back with moderate to severe dysplasia. In January 2010 I had a LEEP procedure which is a surgery so I had to go to a hospital and was given anesthesia, etc. It was SCARY. But here I am 3 years later with normal pap smears since and a beautiful, healthy 6 month old baby boy. The only problems after the LEEP that I faced was excess bleeding during labor from the scar tissue being aggrivated (which led to fears that it might be my placenta–thank God it wasn’t). My husband and I got pregnant the month we started TTC, my pregnancy was 100% normal, I had a normal vaginal delivery and the recovery was a breeze. I share my story just to let you (and other readers who are in similar situations) know that it’s scary, yes. But you did the best thing which was to get a pap smear and even if it comes back with moderate or severe dysplasia, and you have to have a LEEP procedure, you can go on and have a perfectly healthy and happy life with your womanly parts working fine ๐Ÿ™‚
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53 Meghann March 6, 2013 at 10:24 am

Thanks for sharing your story, Regina. That really is good to hear!

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54 Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution March 6, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Thank you for sharing this! My doctor told me I should have no problems with pregnancy/delivery after my LEEP, but it’s a relief to hear it from somebody who has been there.
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55 Colleen L March 6, 2013 at 10:37 am

Meghann, thanks for sharing such a personal thing. I’ve had a couple abnormal paps over the years and it’s terrifying. A few years back I had to do the LEEP procedure, but thankfully everything came back negative and I’ve had normal tests since. It’s super stressful to deal with though, so wishing you the best!
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56 Amanda March 6, 2013 at 10:44 am

Thank you for sharing your experiences with this. It’s amazing how many women go through this. I’m going in for a pap test next month (just my annual), and I’m surprisingly nervous after reading things like this. I’ve honestly never been so excited to get my pap done, just to make sure everything is normal!
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57 Katie March 6, 2013 at 10:44 am

Thinking about you! Keep up the positive attitude and just be thankful you’re on top of the game.
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58 sarah March 6, 2013 at 11:01 am

Try not to worry about it too much, like you, I never realized how common this was until I started talking to my female friends about it, after I had a colposcopy about two years ago. I also had to have the LEEP, but it’s really not too big a deal. I believe you can do it either awake or under anesthesia, I chose to go under. Woke up, spent about a half hour in recovery, then my boyfriend at the time took me home. It’s a little overwhelming, but when you’re young, it’s rare that these things are much more than mild dysplasia. The only time it’s come back to haunt me is when I’ve tried to apply for private health care…of course it’s a pre-existing condition and I’ve been denied plans because of it. Ugh. Can’t wait for the Affordable Care Act to go completely into effect.

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59 Kasandra Raux March 6, 2013 at 11:11 am

Back in 2009 (25), I had an abnormal pap and had to have 2 colposcopies (?) followed by a LEEP. Everything is fine now (28), but back then I thought I would need a hysterectomy and/or get cervical cancer. I commend (and encourage) you to continue being proactive in your health. You are going to get through this for sure. And if everything is all good, yes, you will have to return every 6 mos for check ups but after a year or 2, it goes back to being annually. Sending hugs and positive vibes!
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60 Erin @ Loop Looks March 6, 2013 at 11:52 am

Every time I read about the colposcopy thing I wonder why they didn’t do that for me when I had an abnormal pap years ago. They just had me come back in a few weeks later and get another regular pap done and see how that came back. It came back normal so they said I was fine! Apparently abnormal paps can occur for lots of reason (having sex too soon before the pap, using tampons too close to having the pap done, etc).
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61 Sarah March 6, 2013 at 12:07 pm

My mom had issues like this- hers required monitoring for a few years, but never developed into anything malignant. Hope you get your (good) results quickly!
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62 Ashley A. March 6, 2013 at 12:53 pm

This exact thing happened to me. I got an abnormal test, went through the colpo, began getting normal paps and went back to annuals, and then a few years ago once again had a flair up. Just like you, my nerves got the best of me both times, even though I knew that it was likely going to resolve itself just like it had the first time. Sure enough, 1.5 years and 3 six month apts as opposed to annuals later, I am back to normal paps and annual exams.

I’m not normally a commenter, but once again I feel compelled to thank you for being so open and honest with all of your readers. I, too, felt VERY alone, and even a bit embarrassed to talk to my partner (soon to be husband). I know it would have been much easier had I felt like I had support that understood and more information like this available from real people who have been through it.

So thank you Meghan — I guarantee that because of this post there will be plenty of women who don’t have to go through the emotional struggles of this like you and I did.

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63 Erin @ The Elliptical Chronicles March 6, 2013 at 3:24 pm

I had pretty much the same experience as you, Ashley – I had an abnormal pap in college, had the colposcopy done, and eventually my check up appts. were resumed to annually once all was determined to be normal. I was scared out of my mind, though! I had no idea what was going on with my body and what this meant and knew no one who had experienced this. I was also embarrassed and nervous to tell my boyfriend at the time (husband now). It did all work out and I take my check ups very seriously because I think it’s so important to keep tabs on your health.

I do, however, wish my doctor had been more clear about how it’s fairly common for abnormal pap results to happen. About a year after my first abnormal pap, it seemed like so many girls I knew were coming to me asking about abnormal paps – even a close relative of mine who’s in her late forties has just recently had to go through a colpo! I don’t mean it should be taken lightly because it’s “common,” I just mean, I wish my doctor had done more to help calm my nerves and not leave me thinking the absolutely worst after one abnormal pap exam.
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64 Katie @ A Full Plate March 6, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Two years ago when I went for my annual exam my gyno thought something didn’t feel right. She scheduled me for an ultrasound and I was a little nervous, but I thought everything would be ok. Then my gyno got the results and personally called me, which I knew meant it had to be serious. She told me I had a large ovarian cyst (the size of an orange)…at the time I didn’t know anything about cysts or what this meant for me and my body. I got really scared and just sat in my car and cried. Luckily, like you, I have an amazing gyno and when I went in to talk about what was going to happen she put me at ease as best she could. I had to have surgery to remove it, which was a whole other level of anxiousness since I had never had surgery before. The good news: the cyst was benign. The bad news: it had destroyed one of my ovaries, which had to be removed as well. I can still have kids, but it’s still strange to loose a part of you like that.

I love these posts you’ve been doing…yes, they’re personal, but it’s neccessary to get the information out there for women who are unfamiliar. And to stress that getting an annual exam is very important. If I didn’t go in every year I would have never known about my cyst!
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65 catie March 6, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Ugh, that stinks! I had an abnormal one in college. I went back for a biopsy of the cervix (ouch) and it was determined it was dysplasia. I had cryosurgery on my cervix, which didn’t hurt at all but gave me horrible cramps in my overies and rediculous hot flashes…at least I’ll be ready for menopause when THAT rolls around! ๐Ÿ™‚

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66 Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution March 6, 2013 at 1:01 pm

I had a LEEP procedure a while back and while I worked myself up beyond belief over it and acted like a huge baby the whole time, it really wasn’t that bad. It hurt a little and there was some discomfort afterwards, but all in all it wasn’t terrible. And I’ve been normal since!
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67 amyt March 6, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Yes I’ve had abnormal too – I ended up having to have the LEEP – mine turned out to be stage 2 (pre-cancerous cells). After the LEEP – everything turned out fine ..I had to go back every couple of months after, and never had a abnormal again….UNTIL – I was pregnant….my test came back abnorman, and it scared me, because I knew my history..I was worried. My OB told me not to worry this happens sometimes to pregnant woman..they come back abnormal – of course that couldn’t do a bio or anything while I was pregnant. Well turns out she was right….I went back after having my baby – and my pap was normal. SO, not more scares for me ๐Ÿ™‚ GOOD luck to you!!! All the tests, LEEP are uncomfortable….but it’s worth being checked out. That is why every woman needs to go yearly!!!!! It can be caught in time!

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68 Lindsay March 6, 2013 at 3:58 pm

This is very common. I have been through a couple of them myself, one in my 20s and one at 30 (I’m 34). I hope you don’t have to do the LEEP. It isn’t horrible but it can be pretty painful. Take a couple of ibuprofen beforehand to help with the cramping. Also, I saw someone commented that she went under anesthesia for a LEEP. I have never heard of that (just wanted to mention in case you worry about being put to sleep like some do).

Anyway, it sounds like you have a great doc. When you are young and want a family, they are very conservative with the amount of tissue they remove when doing a LEEP. There is no reason it should affect you in the future (you just may have to take a short break from normal newlywed activities…hehe).

Hope everything turns out well!!

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69 Lea Peabody March 6, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Hey!! I’ve been though the same thing. 2 colpos and 2 LEEPs – the were watching my abnormal cells very closely and when it turned stage 1 cancer the did a cone procedure and were able to remove the cancer completely. Now I go back every 3-6 months for PAPs… Been good for 2 years! Early detection is the key!!! Good luck!!!!

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70 Carissa March 6, 2013 at 10:35 pm

Thank you again Meghann for sharing this. I have my colpo in two weeks. I’ve had abnormal paps on and off for two years and they are now requesting a closer look. I am very anxious but it’s good to read all these stories.
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71 [email protected] healthy stephie March 7, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Great post. It’s so good for women to talk about these things.
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72 Emily March 7, 2013 at 7:09 pm

I had an abnormal result once, and freaked out until my friend told me the same had happened to her and that her doctor said having sex any time in the 48 hrs. preceding the pap test would cause an abnormal result.

Instead of a colposcopy, I went back for another pap which came out all clear.

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73 Sarah M. March 9, 2013 at 2:13 pm

I’ve had 2 colposcopies and you’re right, they aren’t the best experience, but it’s not horrible. I had to have cryotherapy when I was 23 to get rid of some abnormal cells and my paps have all been clear for the past 10 years.
Thank you for sharing your experience and this just reminded me that I’m due for my annual exam!
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74 Katie March 11, 2013 at 2:01 pm

I know I’m definitely tardy in commenting on this post, but I wanted to chime in a bit. I’ve been there. The abnormal results, followed by colpos…and the results not being bad enough to go farther (well, my doctor…who is the sweetest woman in the entire world…just said it was up to me if I wanted to go farther or not). Until last year when the cells in the colpo results came back as being more serious, so it was time for a LEEP.

I am TERRIFIED of the doctor, or any medical procedures in general, and I’ll tell you right now: LEEP isn’t as scary as you’d think, if you do ever have to go get one. I had them prescribe me an anti anxiety pill beforehand to calm my nerves, but I decided to not even take it. Honestly: it is more awkward than painful (I mean, appointments with that kind of doctor always are awkward), and I think that colpos caused more pain/cramps than the LEEP did. I was prepared for it to be terrible, but it was over in just a few minutes and I even went out to dinner with my husband later that night like nothing different had happened that day. I just took some Aleve for the cramping for a day or two afterward. Just wanted to throw that out there since my experience really wasn’t bad whatsoever!
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75 Kelli March 16, 2013 at 2:10 am

IT IS AMAZING AND WONDERFUL WE CAN BE SO OPEN ABOUT SOMETHING SO SCARY!!!! I’ve been there too, colpos followed by a LEEP, and because I was so young they didn’t take enough so yep that meant I still had abnormal cells and possibly may have had to do another LEEP, my follow up repap showed mild dysplasia but HPV negative, hoping the next one will be normal. When I found out that the LEEP did not get all the abnormal cells, I chose to combine conventional medicine (colpos and the LEEP) with alternative medicine. I saw a Dr. of Naturopathic medicine who outlined a treatment plan for me. I was given tons of supplements, used suppositories, and drank lots of green juice to help fight the HPV. For me a cross between the conventional medicine (wait and see then treat) and alternative medicine (do something now to help the body fight whats going on) and prayer worked best. I first read about “reversing cervical dysplasia” here http://www.buellerskitchen.com/?page_id=33, I would advise though that you not try to self treat as supplements can be very dangerous. See a professional (a reputable Naturopathic Doctor or MD that uses alternative medicine). Like I said for me, using all the resources available helped! Prayers and fingers crossed for you… and for me when I go back for a repap at the end of this month ๐Ÿ™‚

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76 Jackie November 15, 2015 at 11:32 pm

Scary stuff, I hope everything turned out okay. I always dread those phone calls from the doctor, “Come and see me about a result.”
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