Cervical dysplasia is a precancerous condition, which means that the state of the cells present in the abnormality caused by cervical dysplasia is associated with a greater risk of cancer.
Cervical dysplasia occurs when there is abnormal cell growth in the surface lining of your cervix (endocervical canal), the opening between your uterus and your vagina.
Symptoms of Cervical Dysplasia
Most of the time, cervical dysplasia will cause no symptoms to occur. Because of this, cervical dysplasia can often become cancerous if left unchecked. Make sure you that the regular pap tests you are getting from your doctor are tested for cervical dysplasia.
If you suspect you may have cervical dysplasia, or simply want to be tested for it, schedule an appointment to have a pap test that will detect dysplasia. Make sure you are not menstruating or have used vaginal creams or lubricants starting at least two days before your Pap test.
Causes of Cervical Dysplasia
- HPV – This is the most important risk factor for developing cervical cancer. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease (it can also be transmitted by skin-to-skin contact) that is found in both men and women. HPV is also found in the cervical cells of many women with cervical dysplasia. HPV most often affects sexually active women under the age of twenty. Once the HPV virus is established in your vagina, it can spread anywhere in that area of your body, including your cervix.
- HPV and Smoking – Female smokers are twice as likely to develop severe cervical dysplasia because smoking suppresses your immune system.
- Immunosuppressive Drugs – Drugs administered as a treatment after organ transplants, or for certain diseases such as HIV and AIDS are known to co-occur with chronic HPV infections and cervical dysplasia.
Risks with Cervical Dysplasia
- Sexual Activity Early in Life
- Having Multiple Sex Partners (This applies to you and your partner)
- Having Sex with an Uncircumcised Man
Diagnosing Cervical Dysplasia
Your doctor can identify whether your cervical dysplasia is mild, moderate, or severe using a single pap test. But medical procedure requires further testing that can help your physician determine the most specific plan for follow-up and treatment possible. The tests used to diagnose your cervical dysplasia are:
- Colposcopy: During a colposcopy, your doctor will use a colposcope, a medical instrument resembling a bright light attached to a pair of binoculars mounted on a stand. A colposcope is used to peer inside your vagina and get a close-up view of your cervix.
- Cone Biopsy: This procedure is a more precise form of a cervical biopsy. The name “cone biopsy” comes from the fact that a cone-shaped wedge of tissue is removed from your cervix and examined under a microscope. This procedure is good for removing abnormal tissue found high in your cervical canal.
- Endocervical Curettage: This procedure tests for abnormal or precancerous conditions and cervical cancer. A spoon-shaped medical instrument called a curette is used to scrape up some of the mucous membranes present in your cervical canal.
- HPV DNA Test: Your pap sample will be tested to see if your cells contain the virus HPV Type 16 or HPV type 18.
- Repeated Pap Tests: Your doctor will collect specimens of cellular material from your uterus and spread it onto a microscope slide for analysis.
Mild cases of cervical dysplasia are known to go away without treatment. If your cervical dysplasia is severe enough, surgery or laser therapy may be necessary.
There are steps you can take to prevent cervical dysplasia –
- Abstinence: Skipping sex, even for just a couple of weeks, is highly recommended to ensure no new bacteria is introduced into your cervix while you are in such a vulnerable post-surgical state.
- Painkillers (over-the-counter): Acetaminophen can help relieve your pain and discomfort after your abnormal cells are removed. Avoid aspirin and ibuprofen; those medications tend to interfere with blood clotting.
- Protect Yourself from HPV: STDs like HPV are heavily linked to cases of cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer. When you are not in a mutually monogamous sexual relationship, always use a condom during sex.
- Rest and Ice: Sometimes you can let your cervical dysplasia heal on its own. Follow your doctor’s instructions and let your body heal itself. Combining quality rest with an ice pack on your lower abdomen can sometimes do the trick to help or heal your cervical dysplasia.
- Treatment: After you are diagnosed, you and your doctor will decide on your treatment. You will either choose to adopt a wait-and-see approach (cervical dysplasia can go away on its own) or decide to undergo laser surgery or another procedure to remove the abnormal cells from your cervix.
- Vitamins: Women who lack vitamin A, riboflavin, folate (B vitamin), and ascorbate (C vitamin) have a higher risk of developing cervical dysplasia.
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