When To Call a Doctor
Most problems that cause abnormal Pap tests do not cause symptoms, so you won't know you have cervical cell changes. Regular Pap testing is needed to detect early cervical cell changes.
Call your doctor if:
- You have unexpected bleeding between menstrual periods, especially if you are not using any hormonal contraceptives, such as birth control pills.
- You have bleeding after douching or sexual intercourse.
If you think you may have symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease (STD), call your doctor for an appointment. Avoid sexual intercourse until you have been treated for your symptoms and can no longer infect your partner.
If your sex partner has symptoms of an STD, both of you should be evaluated by a doctor. If you have been diagnosed with an STD, such as genital warts, your sex partner(s) may want to be evaluated.
When Pap test results show minor changes, watchful waiting may be done before any further evaluation is recommended because these changes often go away without any treatment. Watchful waiting usually involves repeat Pap tests as often as recommended by your doctor for the type of abnormal cell change present.
One study showed that regular condom use during this time improves the chance that abnormal cells will go away by themselves.2
If you have had an abnormal Pap test, be certain to complete any additional testing or treatment that your doctor recommends. You and your doctor can decide how often Pap test screening should continue or whether other tests are needed.
Who To See
Your family doctor or any of the following health professionals can manage an abnormal Pap test:
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.