Abnormal Pap Test
You cannot prevent an Reference abnormal Pap test Opens New Window, but you can reduce your risk factors.
Have regular Pap test screening
The Pap test is the most effective screening test to prevent the development of Reference cervical cancer Opens New Window. Pap tests done at regular intervals almost always detect cervical cell changes before the changes become cancerous. Regular screening for and treatment of cervical cell abnormalities can prevent the abnormal cell changes from developing into cancer.
The recommended Reference Pap test schedule is based on your age and on things that increase your risk. For most women, it is best to have a Pap test every 1 to 3 years. Talk to your doctor about when to have your first Pap test and how often to have this test.
Women who smoke are at higher risk for developing cervical cell changes that cause an abnormal Pap test. The reason for this is not fully understood. Quitting smoking may decrease this risk. Not smoking has many other health benefits. For example, nonsmokers have a lower risk of other cancers and heart disease. For more information, see the topic Reference Quitting Smoking.
Reduce your risk of a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
Reference Sexually transmitted infections Opens New Window (STIs), especially HPV infection, often cause abnormal Pap tests and can lead to other serious health problems. Reference Preventing an STI is easier than treating an infection after it occurs.
- Talk with your partner about STIs before beginning a sexual relationship. Find out whether he or she is at risk for an STI. Remember that it is quite possible to be infected with an STI without knowing it. Some STIs, such as Reference HIV Opens New Window, can take up to 6 months before they are detected in the blood. Consider HIV testing if you or your partner are at risk for HIV.
- Be responsible.
- Avoid sexual contact if you have symptoms of an STI or are being treated for an STI.
- Avoid all intimate sexual contact with anyone who has symptoms of an STI or who may have been exposed to an STI.
- Use Reference male or Reference female condoms to reduce the risk of getting an STI. Using male condoms when you have sex has been shown to reduce your risk of getting HPV.Reference 2 Female condoms may help also, although there has been less study of this type of protection.
- Abstaining from sexual intercourse is the only way to completely prevent any exposure to STIs.
Your risk for an STI increases if you have several sex partners at the same time or if your sex partner has more than one partner.
The vaccines Cervarix (What is a Reference PDF Opens New Window document?) and Gardasil (What is a Reference PDF Opens New Window document?) protect against two types of HPV that cause cervical cancer. Gardasil also protects against two types of HPV that cause Reference genital warts Opens New Window. Three shots are given over 6 months. It is recommended for children age 11 or 12 but can be given as early as age 9. For girls who have not already gotten the vaccine, it is recommended up to age 26. For boys who have not already gotten the shot, the vaccine is recommended up to age 21. Gardasil is used for males. Females can get either vaccine. For more information, see the topic Reference Immunizations.
For more information on getting your child vaccinated, see:
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference February 9, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology