Learning About Cervical Dysplasia
What is cervical dysplasia?
Cervical dysplasia is a change in some of the cells on your cervix. These abnormal cells are not cancer.
Most dysplasia goes away on its own and doesn't cause problems. But in some cases, dysplasia grows into cancer over a period of years.
If your doctor finds dysplasia early, you may be able to wait and see how it looks on your next test. If dysplasia is moderate or severe, you may need treatment.
What happens when you have cervical dysplasia?
You may need more tests or you may need treatment. For example, your doctor may suggest:
- Waiting several months to have repeat testing to see if the dysplasia has gone away on its own.
- Having an HPV test. Cervical dysplasia is usually caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.
- Having a colposcopy. This lets your doctor look at the cervix through a magnifying tool. Your doctor might also take a sample of cells for testing. A colposcopy is usually done before any treatment is given.
- Having treatment to destroy or remove the abnormal cells.
Even after treatment, dysplasia sometimes comes back. This is why it's important to follow up with your doctor and have regular tests.
How can you prevent cervical dysplasia?
Cervical dysplasia is usually caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Here are some things you can do to help prevent HPV infection:
- Use condoms when you have sex. Use them from the beginning to the end of sexual contact.
- The series of HPV shots protects against the major types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends the HPV shot for females 9 through 26 years old, and it is approved for women up to age 45. Check with your doctor to find the HPV vaccine recommendations in your area.
- Talk with your partner(s) about sexually transmitted infections before you have sex. Find out if they are at risk for HPV. Be sure to tell them if you have HPV. Even if you don't have symptoms, you can still pass HPV to others.
How is cervical dysplasia treated?
Not everyone with cervical dysplasia needs treatment. If you need treatment, you may have a procedure to destroy the abnormal cells. Or you may have a procedure to remove the abnormal cells, such as a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP).
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Where can you learn more?
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
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Current as of: November 22, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Kevin C. Kiley MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology & Deborah A. Penava BA, MD, FRCSC, MPH - Obstetrics and Gynecology