Cervical Dysplasia

Cervical dysplasia is a condition in which a woman has abnormal changes in the cells of her cervix. The cervix is the opening to the uterus (womb). It is located between the vagina and the uterus. Cervical dysplasia may be the first sign of cervical cancer.

With early detection, treatment, and close follow-up care, nearly all cases of cervical dysplasia can be cured. If left untreated, dysplasia may become more severe.

CAUSES

Cervical dysplasia can be caused by a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.

RISK FACTORS

  • Having had a sexually transmitted disease, such as chlamydia or a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.  

  • Becoming sexually active before age 18.  

  • Having had more than 1 sexual partner.  

  • Not using protection during sexual intercourse, especially with new sexual partners.  

  • Having had cancer of the vagina or vulva.  

  • Having a sexual partner whose previous partner had cancer of the cervix or cervical dysplasia.  

  • Having a sexual partner who has or has had cancer of the penis.  

  • Having a weakened immune system (such as from having HIV or an organ transplant).  

  • Being the daughter of a woman who took diethylstilbestrol (DES) during pregnancy.  

  • Having a family history of cervical cancer.  

  • Smoking.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

There are usually no symptoms. If there are symptoms, they may include:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge.  

  • Bleeding between periods or after intercourse.  

  • Bleeding during menopause.  

  • Pain during sexual intercourse (dyspareunia).

DIAGNOSIS

A test called a Pap test may be done. During this test, cells are taken from the cervix and then looked at under a microscope. A test in which tissue is removed from the cervix (biopsy) may also be done if the Pap test is abnormal or if the cervix looks abnormal.  

TREATMENT

Treatment varies based on the severity of the cervical dysplasia. Treatment may include:

  • Cryotherapy. During cryotherapy, the abnormal cells are frozen with a steel-tip instrument.  

  • A procedure to remove abnormal tissue from the cervix.

  • Surgery to remove abnormal tissue. This is usually done in serious cases of cervical dysplasia. Surgical options include:

  • A cone biopsy. This is a procedure in which the cervical canal and a portion of the center of the cervix are removed.  

  • Hysterectomy. This is a surgery in which the uterus and cervix are removed.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain or discomfort as directed by your health care provider.  

  • Do not use tampons, have sexual intercourse, or douche until your health care provider says it is OK.

  • Keep follow-up appointments as directed by your health care provider. Women who have been treated for cervical dysplasia should have regular pelvic exams and Pap tests. During the first year following treatment of cervical dysplasia, Pap tests should be done every 3–4 months. In the second year, they should be done every 6 months or as recommended by your health care provider.

  • To prevent the condition from developing again, practice safe sex.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

You develop genital warts.  

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • Your menstrual period is heavier than normal.  

  • You develop bright red bleeding, especially if you have blood clots.  

  • You have a fever.  

  • You have increasing cramps or pain not relieved with medicine.  

  • You are lightheaded, unusually weak, or have fainting spells.  

  • You have abnormal vaginal discharge.  

  • You have abdominal pain.