I have had abnormal paps (i have cervical dysplasia and pre-cancerous cells) since my daughter was born over 3 years ago. I have had colposcopys done, biopsies, laser surguery, freezing of the cells and burning of the cells all done. I have also had polyps. I had a pap today and had another polyp. My pap 6 months ago was clear of abnormla cells and I am hoping this one is, too! Sometimes there is problems with polyps and can interfere with fertility (which worries me because i want another kid one day). And another thing I want to add is info on abnormal paps.
What Is It?
The cervix is the lower part of the uterus, a tubelike channel that opens into the inside of the uterus, or uterine cavity. The other end of the cervix is located inside the vagina, at the far end of the vaginal canal. Cervical polyps are growths that usually come from the cervical canal opening in the vagina. The polyps are usually cherry-red to reddish-purple or grayish-white. They vary in size and often look like bulbs on thin stems. Cervical polyps are usually benign (not cancerous) and can occur alone or in groups. Most polyps are small, about 1 centimeter to 2 centimeters long. Because rare types of cancerous conditions can look like polyps, all polyps should be removed and examined for signs of cancer. The cause of cervical polyps is not well understood, but they are associated with inflammation of the cervix. They also may result from an abnormal response to the female hormone estrogen or develop from a small area of prominent cervical blood vessels.
Cervical polyps are relatively common, especially in women older than 20 who have had at least one child. They are rare in girls who have not started menstruating. Cervical polyps can develop from the outer surface layer cells of the cervix. These are known as ectocervical polyps. Ectocervical polyps are more common in postmenopausal women. Cervical polyps that develop from cervical glands inside the canal are known as endocervical polyps. Most cervical polyps are endocervical polyps, more common in premenopausal women who have had at least one child.
Cervical polyps may not cause any symptoms. However, you may experience:
Discharge, which can be foul-smelling if there is an infection
Bleeding between periods
Heavier bleeding during periods
Bleeding after intercourse
Sometimes, cervical polyps can cause problems with fertility.
If you have a cervical polyp, you usually won't be able to feel it or see it yourself. Cervical polyps are discovered during a routine pelvic exam or evaluation for bleeding or while getting a Pap test.
A polyp sometimes will be shed on its own during sexual intercourse or menstruation. However, most polyps need to be removed because they tend to grow indefinitely.
Regular visits to your doctor for an annual Pap test and pelvic exam are important because a direct examination is the best way to identify cervical polyps.
Cervical polyps are removed surgically, usually in a doctor's office. A special instrument, known as a polyp forceps, is used to grasp the base of the polyp stem, and the polyp is plucked with a gentle, twisting motion. Bleeding is usually brief and limited. Nonprescription, mild pain medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol and other brand names) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin and others) can help to relieve discomfort or cramping during or after the procedure.
The polyp or polyps are sent to a pathology laboratory for examination. You may receive antibiotics if the polyp shows signs of infection. If the polyp is cancerous, then treatment will depend on the extent and type of cancer identified.
Large polyps and polyp stems that are very broad usually need to be removed in an operating room using local, regional or general anesthesia. You will not need to stay in the hospital overnight. Cervical polyps may grow in the future from different areas of the cervix, usually not from the original site. Regular pelvic examination will help to identify and treat polyps before they cause symptoms.
When To Call A Professional
If you experience vaginal discharge, bleeding after intercourse, or bleeding between periods, make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible for a pelvic exam.
Overall, the prognosis is excellent. The vast majority of cervical polyps are not cancerous. Once removed, polyps tend not to come back
What is cervical dysplasia?
Cervical dysplasia (also referred to as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, or CIN) is an abnormal development of tissue growth in the cervix. The cervix is the narrow, lower portion of the uterus. Any woman who is or has been sexually active may have cervical dysplasia.
Dysplasia is not cancer, but it can develop into cancer of the cervix. Cervical dysplasia is classified as either mild, moderate, or severe.
How does it occur?
Cervical dysplasia has been linked to a sexually transmitted disease caused by a wart virus called human papillomavirus (HPV). It is more common in women who have had many sex partners or began to have intercourse before age 18. In addition, cervical dysplasia has been associated with cigarette smoking and too little folic acid in the diet.
What are the symptoms?
Cervical dysplasia seldom has any symptoms.
How is it diagnosed?
Cervical dysplasia is diagnosed by a simple, painless test called a Pap smear. To perform a Pap smear, your health care provider swabs your cervix and cervical canal with a long cotton swab, brush, or wooden scraper. Cells collected from the cervix with the swab are sent to a lab to be viewed under a microscope. The Pap smear can be done in your health care provider's office, clinic, or hospital.
A trained specialist may use a colposcope (an instrument with a magnifying lens) to look closely at the cervix. During the colposcopy small samples of any tissue that appears abnormal may be removed and sent to the lab for tests.
What is the treatment?
Mild cervical dysplasia often goes away without treatment. Beta-carotene taken orally is currently being studied as a treatment for mild cervical dysplasia. If mild dysplasia is not treated, another Pap smear should be done in 4 to 6 months. If the Pap smear still shows mild dysplasia, a colposcopic exam should be done.
For moderate dysplasia, your health care provider may freeze, burn, or use a laser to destroy the abnormal cells. The abnormal cells can also be cut out using a thin wire loop attached to an electrosurgical machine. This is called the loop electrosurgical excisional procedure (LEEP). You do not have to stay in the hospital for any of these procedures. They can be done in your provider's office.
For severe dysplasia, your health care provider will do a cone biopsy, which is the removal of a cone-shaped piece of the cervix. This removes all the tissue containing abnormal cells. Your provider can cut the tissue out with a surgical knife, cautery (burning tool), laser, or wire loop. The tissue removed is closely examined in the lab to look for any evidence of cancer.
Very few women have trouble getting pregnant or have miscarriages after a cone biopsy. If you become pregnant and have had a cone biopsy, tell your prenatal care provider about it. With special care and attention, most women who have had a cone biopsy are able to become pregnant and carry the baby to term.
How can I take care of myself?
After treatment for cervical dysplasia, you should have a Pap smear twice a year for the next 2 years, and once a year thereafter. Regular Pap smears allow your health care provider to detect any recurrence of the dysplasia and treat it promptly.
If you smoke, stop. Avoid breathing smoke from other people's cigarettes. Also, try to eat foods that contain folic acid. These include black-eyed peas, chickpeas, chicken liver, oranges, brewer's yeast, and spinach.
How can I help prevent cervical dysplasia?
To lower your risk of cervical dysplasia:
Have just one sexual partner.
Avoid sexual intercourse until you are 18 or older.