Dysplasia of the Cervix

What is dysplasia?
Dysplasia means precancerous cells. The pathologist has diagnosed these cells when they looked at your pap smear. Dysplasia is defined as low grade (mild) and high grade (moderate to severe).

How did I get dysplasia?
The most common way of getting dysplasia is by contracting a virus called HPV (human papilloma virus). The most common way of contracting this virus is through sexual intercourse, although you may also get it from use of public toilet seats, etc.

Can I give this to someone else?
You need to let your sexual partner know that you have this problem, as the HPV virus can be tranmitted via sexual contact. Use of condoms offers some, although not complete, protection.

Will I have trouble getting pregnant?
No, this virus will not affect your ability to get pregnant.

Will I have this the rest of my life?
There are many bacteria and viruses that live in our bodies all our lives. This is one such virus. Certain factors such as smoking, and impaired immune system and repeated exposure to multiple sexual partners increase the chances that the virus will cause precancerous cells to repeatedly grow on the cervix, throughout your life.

What do we do now?
You will be scheduled for a colposcopy test. This is a test where your doctor will look at your cervix with a microscope. If any abnormal areas are seen, biopsies of these areas will be taken. Slight cramping occurs with the biopsies.

If I carry the virus the rest of my life, how is my dysplasia (precancerous cells) treated?
The goal of treatment is to prevent development of cervical cancer. This usually involves surgical therapy (removing portions of the cervix) when high grade dysplasia occurs. When low-grade dysplasia occurs, teatment with cryocautery (freezing of the surface cells on the cervix) is available, which is an office procedure.

If my dysplasia is treated does that mean I will never get it again?
No. Remember you carry the HPV virus in your system the remainder of your life. Because of this, the virus may, intermittently, throughout your life, affect the cervical cells and cause precancerous change to occur on your pap smear. Therefore, you will require frequent pap smears to diagnose recurrence. If your recurrance is low grade, often times the only “treatment” needed is close follow-up of pap smears.

How can I decrease my chances of recurrence of dysplasia?
Stop smoking, Use condoms, Limit sexual partners.  Adequate folic acid in your diet: eat one bowl of Total cereal each day and take a multi-vitamin each day.  Exercise, get plenty of rest, and follow a well balanced diet to optimize your immune system.

Is the pap always accurate?
No. Like any test, the pap test is not always accurate. It may report abnormal cells when there aren’t any. When this happens, the doctor will look at your cervix with a microscope to see if the findings seen by the pathologists on the pap correlate with what is seen under the microscope.
If you have been diagnosed with an abnormal pap, the doctor will follow you with paps more frequently than once a year. This increases the chances of finding any significant problems.

Is this a common problem?
This is a very common. One out of two men carries the HPV virus. Many women live long lives without significant problems.