A pap test or pap smear, short for the Papanicolaou test is a technique of cervical screening used to identify potentially cancerous cells in the cervix. It is recommended for the women over 30 and sexually active, those having HIV or the women who had weakened immune system due to an organ transplant. It is usually used to detect cervical cancer in women.
Pap smear test is sometimes also recommended during pregnancy. And it’s a living nightmare to find an abnormal PAP smear during your pregnancy, which suggests that you have abnormal cervical cells during pregnancy. You are at cloud 9 and dreaming about the new member in your life and suddenly your whole world crashes down. You start to panic, thinking about the worst possible outcomes, but stressing doesn’t help. Instead, stress also will affect negatively on you and your baby’s health. The smartest decision would be to visit a gynecologist as soon as possible and show them the reports. If it is normal, he or she will bless you out of worries and if not he shall treat you and ask for a follow up. You may have to go through a colposcopy which is when the doctor examines your cervical cells in detail to find the abnormality. This test is safe to have during pregnancy.
It was common questions in the earlier times that can a pap smear determine pregnancy. But it’s not so as the abnormal PAP test means, some abnormal cells have been growing in your cervix which may suggest cervical cancer if the abnormal cells are malignant. The HPV (human Papilloma Virus) is detected by this test which is one of the main causes of cervical cancer.
According to the medical science, the abnormalities in a Pap result can be categorised into following types-
- Atypical Squamous Cells of Undetermined Significance
This means that there is a layer of thin abnormal cells on your cervix, this is not pre-cancerous. But this should be treated as soon as the pregnancy is over.
- Low-grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesion
This is nothing to worry as it is caused due to the presence of HPV virus and can be cured automatically by the body.
- High-grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesion
This suggests a malignant lesion in your cervix, which may lead to cancer.
- Atypical Squamous Cell
This suggests a serious amount of severe changes in your cervical cells and may lead to cancer.
- Atypical Glandular Cells
A thin layer of tissue has grown which may turn itself in cancerous cells.
While all these growths are not cancerous, but prevention of disease is always better than cure. The doctor would wait until your pregnancy is over to start treating you, so you don’t have to worry about your baby. The doctor may keep you under observation by asking you to do a colposcopy every 3 months during pregnancy. Unless absolutely necessary, the doctor would wait until 3 months of your pregnancy to start treating your cervix, but if its really serious the doctor would perform a procedure called LLETZ (large loop excision of the transformation zone).