Women of all ages suffer from gynecological complications requiring medical attention. For many, however, the symptoms are simply based on hormonal irregularities and normal progressions of life from puberty to menopause. For some women, however, a routine pap smear can often turn into a frightening experience when pap smear test results prove positive for complications. When visiting with a gynecologist, it is important to understand the pap smear testing and what the findings, in terms of gynecological complications, may indicate and what, if any, protections are made against the risk of a false positive pap smear test.
With a pap smear, women undergo a simple pelvic and vaginal exam through the use of a speculum. With the cervix and vaginal canal in clear view, many gynecologists can visually determine a variety of health conditions, including pregnancy. Using a sterile swab, the gynecologist swabs the inside of the cervical area, capturing vaginal and cervical fluids in addition to cells which are examined further, in a laboratory, under microscope.
For many women, this simple pap smear test can result in an emotional roller coaster, especially for those women who unsuspectingly receive a positive result without any forewarning of a potential complication. Fortunately, for some women, the positive pap smear results can be incorrect leading to a false positive test result. Let’s examine how this occurs.
For women undergoing a pap smear, it is important to understand the degree to which the culture must be protected. Simple false positive results can occur when the gynecologist fails to maintain properly sterilized swabs which may range from using unsealed swabs to accidentally swabbing the outside of the vaginal area, including the thighs. In doing so, atmospheric bacteria, bacteria on the skin and even bacteria from other patients, may fall onto the sterile swab tip resulting in an abnormal false positive result.
Once the pap smear swab is obtained, the cell sample is forwarded to a local laboratory where a cytotechnologist will begin to review the cell samples, on a slide, under a microscope. During this phase, laboratories, examining pap smear cell samples, have been known to confuse patient samples, perform inaccurate preparation of the cells and even store cell samples inappropriately. Often, to the benefit of the patient, the laboratory will report such complications back to the gynecologist and, as a result, the patient will undergo repeat pap smear testing.
For women who receive notice of adverse pap smear results, the first inclination is one of panic. For many women, adverse reactions simply translate into a diagnosis of cervical cancer. However, before assuming this is the case, the gynecologist will, as a general rule, repeat the pap smear study to confirm or rule out gynecologist complications and, in many cases, the results will lead to a false positive pap smear result.
For more information regarding pap smear findings, visit www.mayoclinic.com.