Abnormal Pap Smear Sexually active teenagers and women 20 to 65 years old are advised to have periodic Pap smears, where a small amount of tissue is swabbed from the cervix and examined for evidence of precancerous or cancerous changes. A pap smear is considered abnormal when abnormal cervical cells are found. Cervical dysplasia is a term used to describe abnormal cervical cells taken during the pap smear. Cervical dysplasia is usually graded according to its severity, which can range from mild inflammation to precancerous changes to localized cancer. If an abnormality is detected early, the doctor can prescribe effective treatment before the problem becomes more serious. Cervical cancer (page 000) is a common, sometimes fatal disease. It is now known that human papilloma virus (HPV), also the cause of genital warts (page 000), is the major cause of cervical dysplasia. What are the symptoms of an abnormal pap smear? There are no symptoms of cervical dysplasia until the disease has progressed into advanced cancer. Therefore, it is crucial that sexually active women, or women over age 20, have yearly Pap smears until the age of 65. Women who experience bleeding between menstrual periods, bleeding after intercourse, abnormal vaginal discharge, abdominal pain or swelling, urinary symptoms, or pelvic pain should be evaluated by a healthcare provider, even if it is not the regular time for a Pap test. Medical treatments If the Pap smear is normal, no further tests are necessary until the next yearly Pap test. If the cells collected on the Pap smear are abnormal, a repeat test and a pelvic exam where the doctor looks at the cervix with a special magnifying lens (colposcope) may be recommended. Sometimes a small piece of tissue is removed from the cervix (biopsy) and examined under a microscope to see if there are any precancerous changes or cancer present. If these additional tests find an early stage of cervical cancer, it is either treated by removing the affected portion of the cervix (cone biopsy) or by removing the entire cervix and uterus (abdominal hysterectomy). Checklist for Abnormal Pap Smear Nutritional RatingSupplementsHerbs HHHFolic acid (page 000) (for women using oral contraceptives) HHIGreen tea extracts (page 000) (poly E or (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate) HIISelenium (page 000)Echinacea (page Vitamin A (page 000)000), Goldenseal Vitamin E (page 000)(page 000), Marsh- mallow (page 000), Myrrh (page 000), Usnea (page 000), Yarrow (page 000) (suppository; in various combinations) Dietary changes that may be helpful Most dietary studies have found that women consuming high amounts of nutrients from fruits and vegetables have less risk of cervical dysplasia. Protective effects may be especially strong from diets high in dark yellow/orange vegetables (carrots, winter squash, etc.) and tomatoes. Lifestyle changes that may be helpful Cigarette smoking increases the risk of cervical dysplasia, and increases the likelihood that mild forms of dysplasia will progress to more severe forms. Quitting smoking and avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke are essential for this and many other health reasons. Certain sexual behaviors are consistently associated with cervical dysplasia, such as becoming sexually active at an early age and having multiple sexual partners. Avoiding these behaviors may reduce the risk of cervical dysplasia. For those who are sexually active, using barrier methods of contraception, such as a condom or diaphragm, is associated with reduced risk of cervical dysplasia. Nutritional supplements that may be helpful Large amounts of folic acid (page 000)10 mg per dayhave been shown to improve the abnormal Pap smears of women who are taking birth conGaby, Alan R. is the author of 'Natural Pharmacy Complete A-Z Reference to Natural Treatments for Common Health Conditions', published 2006 under ISBN 9780307336651 and ISBN 0307336654.