When there are abnormal changes of cells in the surface lining of the cervix, the changes are called cervical dysplasia. This can only be seen under a microscope but it is usually found during an annual pap smear. The cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus, contains numerous cells and when they are abnormal, can be referred to as cervical dysplasia. Cervical dysplasia, when not monitored or treated, may gradually turn into cancerous cells which cause cervical cancer.
Causes of Cervical Dysplasia
Cervical dysplasia is more common in women between 25 and 35 but can happen at any age. Cervical dysplasia is typically caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) which is a common virus spread during sexual intercourse. There are a variety of types of HPV, some of which lead to cervical dysplasia or cervical cancer. There are some risk factors for cervical dysplasia including having multiple sexual partners, having unprotected sex, having sex before 18, having a baby before 16, taking medications that weaken your immune system, and smoking cigarettes.
Diagnosing Cervical Dysplasia
Because there are no known symptoms of cervical dysplasia it is important for women over the age of 18 or who are sexually active, to get annual exams and pap smears. To diagnose cervical dysplasia, a pelvic examination is necessary and usually the first step. During the pap smear, some changes in the cells of the cervical lining will show cervical dysplasia such as low-grade, high-grade, malignant (possibly cancerous cells) and atypical glandular cells. If abnormal cells are found, the doctor will perform a follow-up pelvic examination, colposcopy biopsy, and a cone biopsy. Three stages might be diagnosed, such as mild dysplasia (CIN 1), moderate dysplasia (CIN 2) or severe dysplasia carcinoma (CIN 3).
Treating Cervical Dysplasia
The degree of cervical dysplasia between CIN 1, 2 or 3 is what determines the course of treatment. Treatment is necessary in order to avoid the advancement of the condition which can lead to cervical cancer. Observation and monitoring with regular pap smears every 3-6 months is normal for mild dysplasia. Moderate and severe dysplasia treatments include laser therapy to remove abnormal tissue, cryosurgery to freeze abnormal cells, loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) for removing abnormal tissue, or a hysterectomy in the most severe of cases. Most cases of cervical dysplasia will be cured with these treatments and the chances of preventing cervical cancer is highly successful.
Preventing Cervical Dysplasia
TO prevent this condition, you should do things to reduce your risk factors such as not smoking, having protected sex or abstaining from sex, get the HPV vaccination, waiting until you’re 18 to begin having sex, and having just one sexual partner at a time.