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Abnormal Pap Test - Symptoms

Because cervical cell changes that can cause an abnormal Pap test rarely cause symptoms, regular Pap test screening to monitor cell changes is important.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which is the most common cause of abnormal cervical cell changes, usually does not cause any symptoms.

A number of infections and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can cause an abnormal Pap test. STIs can have a variety of symptoms, including:

  • A change in vaginal discharge (thicker, discolored, or bad-smelling) over a period of several days to 2 weeks.
  • Pain, burning, or itching while urinating that lasts more than 24 hours.
  • Pain during sexual intercourse.
  • Pain in the pelvic or lower abdominal area.
  • Itching, tingling, burning, or pain on the genitals.
  • Sores, lumps, blisters, rashes, or warts on or around the genitals.

Only a small percentage of abnormal Pap tests indicate cervical cell changes that may progress to cervical cancer.

Symptoms of cervical cancer may include:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding or a significant unexplained change in your menstrual cycle.
  • Bleeding when something comes in contact with the cervix (such as during sexual intercourse or insertion of a diaphragm).
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge containing mucus that may be tinged with blood.
  • Pain during intercourse.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: December 28, 2010
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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