What is cervical dysplasia?
Cervical dysplasia refers to the growth of abnormal cells on your cervix. Your cervix is located near the bottom of your uterus, and functions as the opening to your uterus. Cervical dysplasia is generally found during your annual pap smear. Between 250,000 and 1 million women are diagnosed with some form of cervical dysplasia every year. Cervical dysplasia is often worrisome as it can indicate cancer or precancerous cells in your cervix. However, with proper treatment, a large percentage of women with cervical dysplasia never develop cancer.
Types of cervical dysplasia
Cervical dysplasia is classified in three groups according to its severity:
- Mild cervical dysplasia: this is the most common type of cervical dysplasia. 70% of these cases resolve on their own, without treatment.
- Moderate cervical dysplasia: this type of dysplasia is more likely to require treatment and may progress to cancer.
- Severe cervical dysplasia: this generally indicates a more progressed form of dysplasia, and may indicate precancerous cells.
The cause of cervical dysplasia is still unknown, although there are a variety of factors that may contribute to the growth of abnormal cervical cells. These include:
- HPV infection, also known as genital warts
- HIV infection
- Exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES), which was given to pregnant women between 1938 and 1971
- long-term use of oral contraceptives (more than 5 years)
- Cigarette smoking
- Poor nutrition
Unfortunately, there are generally no symptoms of cervical dysplasia; this is why it is so important to have an annual pap smear. Occasionally, though, cervical dysplasia is accompanied by some symptoms, including:
- genital warts
- irregular bleeding
- spotting after intercourse
- unusual vaginal discharge
- low back pain
Cervical dysplasia and pregnancy
No link has been found between HPV and miscarriage, premature delivery, or other pregnancy complications. If you have cervical dysplasia while you are pregnant, it is important to notify all of your health care providers. Sometimes, cervical dysplasia can get worse during pregnancy because of the increase of hormones in your body. However, a large percentage of pregnant women who are diagnosed with cervical dysplasia will recover after pregnancy, without any treatment. Having cervical dysplasia when you are pregnant will have no adverse effects on your baby. However, if it is determined that your cervical dysplasia has been caused by an infection, such as HIV or genital warts, it is important to receive treatment for these diseases right away. HIV and genital warts can be passed on to your newborn, causing serious complications. Your doctor will provide screening tests to see if you have these diseases.
The possibility of transmission of infections to the baby during childbirth and natural childbirth for the mother
The risk of HPV (One of the causes of cervical cancer) transmission to the baby during childbirth is very low. Even if babies do get the HPV virus, their bodies usually clear the virus on their own. And even if the mother has a type of HPV virus that has caused cervical cancer, the baby can be delivered safely. In very rare cases, a baby born to a woman who has genital warts will develop warts in the throat. This serious condition is called respiratory papillomatosis and requires frequent laser surgery to prevent the warts from blocking the baby’s breathing passages. Therefore, natural childbirth is not a problem for people with cervical dysplasia in terms of the transmission of infection to the baby due to the low probability of transmission to it, but it is necessary to consult with their doctor about the severity of the infection and its treatment.
The treatment of cervical dysplasia depends on many different factors, including the severity of the condition and the age of the patient.
- Mild cervical dysplasia: often only continued monitoring with repeat Pap tests is needed. For older women with mild cervical dysplasia, usually no treatment is needed unless mild cervical dysplasia has persisted for two years, progressed to moderate or severe cervical dysplasia, or there are other medical problems.
- Other treatments:
- Cone biopsy or LEEP.
- Cryosurgery (freezing)
- Laser surgery