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Abnormal Pap Test - Cause

Most abnormal Pap tests are caused by HPV infections.

Other types of infection—such as those caused by bacteria, yeast, or protozoa (Trichomonas)—sometimes lead to minor changes on a Pap test called atypical squamous cells.

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Natural cell changes that may happen during and after menopause can also cause an abnormal Pap test.

What increases your risk of having an abnormal test result?

Certain sexual behaviors—such as having sex without condoms and having more than one sex partner—increase your risk of getting an HPV infection. And an HPV infection raises your risk for having abnormal test results.

Other things that may also play a role in increasing your risk include:

  • Smoking.
  • Having an impaired immune system.
  • Having been exposed to the drug DES while your mother was pregnant with you, though this is rare.

If you have had one abnormal Pap test result, you're more likely to have another in the future.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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