2-7% of pregnant women in the United States will have
an abnormal pap during pregnancy. An abnormal pap smear means
that some of the cells that were brushed off the cervix during a
pap smear appeared atypical, or abnormal, under the microscope.
There are many causes of atypical cervical cells, but they are
often from infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Cervical dysplasia (change in the cells of the cervix) is
considered pre-cancerous because if left untreated it can
progress to cervical cancer. Some abnormal pap results will lead
to an exam called a colposcopy. Colposcopy is when a doctor uses
a microscope to look at the cervix. This procedure is similar to
a pelvic exam and usually takes about 15 minutes. The doctor
will try to visualize any abnormal areas on the cervix and decide
if the abnormal area(s) appear to be mild, moderate, or severe
dysplasia. The doctor will then decide if a biopsy is required.
Current recommendations suggest that pregnant women with cervical
lesions that appear to be moderate or severe dysplasia by
colposcopy should be biopsied.