Thoughts Every Woman Has After An Abnormal Pap

January 19, 2018  |  
1 of 15 worried on the phone

Ugh. The dreaded pap smear. Even if the sensation doesn’t hurt you, the simple thought of someone scraping cells off of your cervix is enough to make you faint. Odds are that the first time you got a pap smear you thought, “I have to do this every year?” (Not to mention more frequently as you get older, or if they find anything). But for most women, though pap smears are inconvenient and uncomfortable, they aren’t worrisome. We schedule them into our calendars and don’t think another thought about them—as if we’re just going to get our car washed. We don’t really expect anything to come of these pap smears. We give ourselves a pat on the back for getting them and move on with our lives. So to get that call—that, “We found something abnormal in your pap smear” call comes as a shock. Here are things all women have thought after an abnormal pap smear.


Um, can I get a little more information?

The limited amount of information the doctor gives you when she calls you is infuriating. “Abnormal” cells? What does that even mean? Were they moving around? Were they a weird color? Hello?


Why is my doctor so calm about this?

She is calm because abnormal pap smears are quite common. In fact, some studies suggest nearly six percent of women get one at some point in their life. But naturally, you don’t want to be just a percentage; you’re freaking out and your doctor’s calm demeanor offends you.

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I’m going to die

Then the drama sets in. You think, “That’s it. It’s over.” If you’re anything like me, you had a pitcher of margaritas all to yourself after hearing that you had an abnormal pap.

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I’m all alone

You can begin to feel like the black sheep, surrounded by all of these perfectly healthy women. You feel like there is a big scarlet letter on your chest—like you’re the weird one.

I want a re-test

Perhaps the doctor was wrong. Perhaps it was a fluke—like when you get a false positive in a pregnancy test. That can happen with a pap smear, right? Maybe your doctor should run it again.

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Maybe they mixed up the results

Yeah. Maybe they accidentally gave you somebody else’s results. You thought the files were a little unorganized in that office. Boy, you sure do feel bad for whomever those results really do belong to, but you don’t think it’s you.


Actually, this happens a lot

You come to learn that irregular paps are quite a, well, regular occurrence. You confess your situation to several girlfriends and a few of them say, “Oh—psh. That happened to me too.” And you start to feel not good, but better.



But what if I’m the one it’s really bad for?

Then panic sets in. Sure, all of your friends wound up being just fine. Their abnormal cells returned to normal. But some women do, in fact, have a worse fate. What’s to say you aren’t one of them?

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Have I been too promiscuous?

You begin to blame yourself. Have you been too promiscuous? Maybe you thought your number of partners was low but it’s actually quite high. Perhaps you should have demanded that one partner wear two condoms.


I should have been more promiscuous

Screw it! You haven’t been promiscuous! But maybe you should have been since clearly refraining from some fun didn’t do you much good.

Use Condoms

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But I always use protection!

And you always use protection. All of those dollars spent on condoms…down the drain. Here you are: with an abnormal pap. You should get a refund on those condoms.

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But I got the vaccine!

And you got the vaccine! So how is this happening! Well, the vaccine only protects against some (and the most dangerous) strains of HPV. It’s still a very good thing that you got it.


This will follow me my entire life

You fear that you’ll now worry, forever. You’ll never walk into a pap smear feeling care-free again. It will no longer be just another thing you mark off on your to-do list. It will be a dark day each time.


I can just ignore this

You think, “Hey, this rarely turns into anything for most women. And my friends say that there was nothing they could do about it—they just had to keep an eye on it via more paps. So I don’t need to go re-visit my doctor.”

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I should NOT ignore this

Then you panic again and realize that you should absolutely go back in and see your doctor, as she requested. You realize that you, alone—a civilian, non-doctor(presumably)—cannot determine the severity of this or how much you should worry. There is no point in thinking about it again until after seeing your doctor, discussing it, and running more tests.

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