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 Post subject: Bad Pap - please get a pelvic exam yearly
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 3:55 pm 
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The cold sore-kissing thread got me thinking about my own experience with a common STD that is now mostly preventable by the Gardisil vaccine, HPV.

I had my baby about 19 months ago. At the time there were people in and out of my birth canal once a week for months. Obviously I did not have bad cells then. This means that all of this happened between the two previous summers; it took only one year to have this kind of thing happen.

One year after my IUD insertion/recent pelvic exam I had another exam and the funny part was that I even had the gardisil injected. One week or so later I got a call from the Dr's. Remember how they always tell you no news is bad news? I go to the doctor to get a referral to a gynecologist (my doctor at the time only did OB) and my own doctor showed me the bad news just by avoiding me. She wouldn't even talk directly to me after spending the past year helping me rear my child! This was bad. I was totally ignorant about cervical cancer.

I finally go to this ridiculous gynecologist that said, "bless your heart" to me. He says I have a high grade squamous intraepitheliial lesion. Pre-cancer at 21 years old. If left untreated HGSIL cells have a 20% chance of becoming cervical cancer within 5 years. I didn't hear that from any doctor at the time, thanks internet for scaring the jebus out of me. So we go into the exam room and he performs a colposcopy and a biopsy. He said things to his assistant like, "she literally has X amount of cells from here to here." That is not good for the morale. The pain of the procedure wasn't as horrible as a really bad cramp or my IUD insertion was.

Less than a week later I moved away and lost my job insurance just when things start to get interesting. On my 22nd birthday I got a call saying all of the cells were the HGSIL and I must get them removed very soon. I put off the appointment for a week. I had what is called a LEEP, loop electrosurgical excision procedure. A very good friend of mine had this and has obviously survived to tell her tale so I went into it as unmorbidly as possible. Some depression had set in but overall I was just annoyed to have forgotten my vertical hood piercing and when the nurse tried to take it out I screamed. They gave me plenty of cervical numbing so it wasn't so bad in that respect. I even went camping afterward! They cut off all of the bad cells (plus a bunch of the good cervical tissue) with a highly charged little piece of metal. Either I had of cells to cut off or a lot or my doctor wasn't so great at it (she seemed nervous) that they had to use two of the little loops. They also had to use not one but TWO speculum. It was like a horror porn movie for a bit. They did accidentally cut my IUD string but it will not be missed. Otherwise the IUD was fine during all of these procedures.

Now I have to have two more colposcopy check ups in the next 6 months and I will always have to make sure nothing happens like this again. I may also have to have LEEP performed again many more times in my future to prevent cancer. I am not 100% sure if my type of HPV is covered by Gardisil but I wish there had been gardisil before I was sexually active! Boys can get it now too. The kind of stress I was having was absolutely awful.

All this on top of the fact that I had just read the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which partly about a person that died of the worst cervical cancer. Amazing read, by the way.

I am not ashamed that this is going on, although I do feel somewhat guilty for not being the model planned parenthood safe-sex advocate I prided myself in being before. I just want everybody to take good care of themselves. If you ever have a bad pap feel free to ask me for advice or comfort. I have lots of hugs to give to anybody else that has to go through this. I am so thankful that I knew somebody else for grounding in reality. I learned a bit about HPV in this time. It can only be transmitted through intercourse and is often unseen for years.

ETA: spelling

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 Post subject: Re: Bad Pap - please get a pelvic exam yearly
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 4:02 pm 
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That sounds really traumatic! I'm so sorry you had to go through all of that.

I had regular papsmears, so when my precancerous cells appeared, I was able to get them removed quickly with a colposcopy. Because it was caught early, it wasn't a difficult procedure and 21 years later I've had nothing but negative papsmears since.

So get your papsmears regularly!

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 Post subject: Re: Bad Pap - please get a pelvic exam yearly
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 4:05 pm 
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Good to hear you've been negative for so long. I have more hope now!

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 Post subject: Re: Bad Pap - please get a pelvic exam yearly
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 4:10 pm 
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Definitely! It was scary getting papsmears for the first 5 or so years, but at this point, I get an annual pap and they're always fine.

It sounds like the doctors you were dealing with were really uncompassionate and uncaring, and I am so sorry for that. I was at Rutgers at the time, and the people there were great.

Sending you hugs!

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 Post subject: Re: Bad Pap - please get a pelvic exam yearly
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 5:15 pm 
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It's scary stuff. I have been through it twice. The first time, my dysplasia was very mild and, after a colposcopy indicated nothing worth biopsy-ing, we opted for a wait-and-see approach because your immune system can clear HPV. I came in three months after the colpo and got a clear pap. Then I did six months and six month before going back to yearly.

Fast forward six or seven years and it came up again. This time it was edging into more serious territory (LSIL? I think?) and I had LEEP. My gyno told me that from where I was starting from, LEEP was 95% curative. But... I was clear at six months, possibly due to an insuffcient cell sample, and back to dysplasia at a year and I had to have a second LEEP. But I've been clear since and my gyno thinks we're good. Apparently I had a nice, long cervix to start off with and she doesn't think lopping off a centimeter or so will affect my ability to keep a pregnancy should I ever get around to having kids.

So, ((hugs)) for Sra. Nooch and anyone else who's going through this. And, if you have lady bits and are not getting regular paps... what are you waiting for? It's not my favorite way to spend 10 minutes, but it's not that bad and it's far and away worth a little discomfort! This reminds me that I'm due in November!

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 Post subject: Re: Bad Pap - please get a pelvic exam yearly
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 5:18 pm 
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Tofulish wrote:
That sounds really traumatic! I'm so sorry you had to go through all of that.

I had regular papsmears, so when my precancerous cells appeared, I was able to get them removed quickly with a colposcopy. Because it was caught early, it wasn't a difficult procedure and 21 years later I've had nothing but negative papsmears since.

So get your papsmears regularly!

whoa, does the colposcopy remove the precancerous cells? I had one last year after having a bad pap but I was led to believe that it was just to do further testing so they could tell whether the bad pap meant anything was wrong or not. When I called them for the results after the colposcopy they just told me everything was ok...but I went to this weird gyno and her receptionists didn't speak english very well. I'm def. gonna get another pap soon as I find a new doctor.

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 Post subject: Re: Bad Pap - please get a pelvic exam yearly
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 5:21 pm 
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Wow. I'm sorry you went through all that. *big hug*

I'll certainly take your message to heart, Sra. Nooch.

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 Post subject: Re: Bad Pap - please get a pelvic exam yearly
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 5:28 pm 
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It's pretty hard to avoid HPV since you can even get it with a condom on. Additionally, since men can't really be tested, people may think they are STD free and they are not. I hope you don't beat yourself up for not being the "model" of safe sex. No one really is.

I missed the mark on shots. Came out right as I was turning 25 and it was expensive and not covered by insurance.

I had the LEEP, but didn't have a bad experience with it. Actually, no one seemed alarmed at all that I was getting it. No one even mentioned possible cancer.

I'm not intenting to talk about myself here, and I really sympathize with your ordeal. I suppose I just want to point out that not all abnormal paps are bad signs or mean you are going to get cancer.


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 Post subject: Re: Bad Pap - please get a pelvic exam yearly
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 5:52 pm 
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grumble grumble. fine! ill call planned parenthood Monday and finally make my follow up appt for abnormal cells that I've been putting off. grumble grumble. (thanks for the push!)


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 Post subject: Re: Bad Pap - please get a pelvic exam yearly
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:43 pm 
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Quarantined wrote:
Tofulish wrote:
That sounds really traumatic! I'm so sorry you had to go through all of that.

I had regular papsmears, so when my precancerous cells appeared, I was able to get them removed quickly with a colposcopy. Because it was caught early, it wasn't a difficult procedure and 21 years later I've had nothing but negative papsmears since.

So get your papsmears regularly!

whoa, does the colposcopy remove the precancerous cells? I had one last year after having a bad pap but I was led to believe that it was just to do further testing so they could tell whether the bad pap meant anything was wrong or not. When I called them for the results after the colposcopy they just told me everything was ok...but I went to this weird gyno and her receptionists didn't speak english very well. I'm def. gonna get another pap soon as I find a new doctor.

As far as I understand, a colposcopy is just looking at the cervix (hence the "scope") and painting various substances onto it to see the cells' reaction, but they can excise tissue for biopsy, so maybe that's how they got it?

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 Post subject: Re: Bad Pap - please get a pelvic exam yearly
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:47 pm 
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That sounds awfully traumatic, but you bring up a good message. Everyone should get a pap once a year! No excuses!

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 Post subject: Re: Bad Pap - please get a pelvic exam yearly
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:52 pm 
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For serious.

Anyone who isn't convinced by the OTHER stories in this thread... my mom had cervical cancer when she was 17. The ONLY reason she found out was that she had a pap smear when she went to the OB/GYN for the first time ever because she was pregnant with my oldest sibling. You know when they say you should have a pap as soon as you're sexually active? This is why, people!

They caught it soon enough in her case that it was treatable, and she went on to have five kids including me. And 30some years later, it hasn't come back.

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 Post subject: Re: Bad Pap - please get a pelvic exam yearly
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:54 pm 
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I am sorry you had to go through all that! Hugs!


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 Post subject: Re: Bad Pap - please get a pelvic exam yearly
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:01 pm 
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Oh wow. Thank you for sharing that story, and I'm really sorry to all of you who have dealt with this.

I got into trouble with a coworker when I was in my early twenties for not seeing a gyno regularly. I'm really glad she kicked my asparagus into going!


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 Post subject: Re: Bad Pap - please get a pelvic exam yearly
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:11 pm 
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They only do pap smears every three years here. It kinda makes me nervous. I feel like I should be getting one yearly, but I know they'd tell me it's unnecessary if I tried to schedule one before the three-year mark.

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 Post subject: Re: Bad Pap - please get a pelvic exam yearly
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:16 pm 
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rachell37 wrote:
They only do pap smears every three years here. It kinda makes me nervous. I feel like I should be getting one yearly, but I know they'd tell me it's unnecessary if I tried to schedule one before the three-year mark.

I grew up in Europe and never had a pap smear til I moved back here when I was 28. The Planned Parenthood clinic bitched me out when I went to get birth control, they were shocked that I'd never had one before, but my doctors never suggested it to me in Europe before that. it seems that outside the US the medical community doesn't feel it's necessary as often as in the states. Not to offend anyone in this thread and their stories of people who have caught things early through getting paps...sorry if it comes across that way.

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 Post subject: Re: Bad Pap - please get a pelvic exam yearly
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:17 pm 
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monkeytoes wrote:
Quarantined wrote:
Tofulish wrote:
That sounds really traumatic! I'm so sorry you had to go through all of that.

I had regular papsmears, so when my precancerous cells appeared, I was able to get them removed quickly with a colposcopy. Because it was caught early, it wasn't a difficult procedure and 21 years later I've had nothing but negative papsmears since.

So get your papsmears regularly!

whoa, does the colposcopy remove the precancerous cells? I had one last year after having a bad pap but I was led to believe that it was just to do further testing so they could tell whether the bad pap meant anything was wrong or not. When I called them for the results after the colposcopy they just told me everything was ok...but I went to this weird gyno and her receptionists didn't speak english very well. I'm def. gonna get another pap soon as I find a new doctor.

As far as I understand, a colposcopy is just looking at the cervix (hence the "scope") and painting various substances onto it to see the cells' reaction, but they can excise tissue for biopsy, so maybe that's how they got it?

yeah that's what I thought, I think they must not have done a biopsy in my case.

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 Post subject: Re: Bad Pap - please get a pelvic exam yearly
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:17 pm 
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I just had a normal pap and my doc recommended I only go every 2-3 years. I'm not sure what I will end up doing.

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 Post subject: Re: Bad Pap - please get a pelvic exam yearly
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:20 pm 
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I had an abnormal pap smear 20 years ago and nothing came of it. Just visit your Dr or Planned Parenthood! Ignoring it isn't going to make it go away.

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 Post subject: Re: Bad Pap - please get a pelvic exam yearly
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:29 pm 
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We're told to only have them every 2-3 years here, too. But I'll be sure to do it more often than that.

Was Gardasil available for free for women elsewhere, or just in Australia?

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 Post subject: Re: Bad Pap - please get a pelvic exam yearly
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:32 pm 
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graffitipassion wrote:
It's pretty hard to avoid HPV since you can even get it with a condom on. Additionally, since men can't really be tested, people may think they are STD free and they are not. I hope you don't beat yourself up for not being the "model" of safe sex. No one really is.

I missed the mark on shots. Came out right as I was turning 25 and it was expensive and not covered by insurance.

I had the LEEP, but didn't have a bad experience with it. Actually, no one seemed alarmed at all that I was getting it. No one even mentioned possible cancer.

I'm not intenting to talk about myself here, and I really sympathize with your ordeal. I suppose I just want to point out that not all abnormal paps are bad signs or mean you are going to get cancer.


The beginning of this sounds like me! I got a pap every year starting several years before becoming sexually active. I've had a grand total of 3 partners - the first was a virgin; the second was someone who had only ever also had sex with a virgin; the third is my husband. Before becoming sexually active with my husband (who was no prude), I made him go get the gambit of STD tests run - I'd had 'em done at my annual. Everything comes back all clear. Five years later and a decade of normal paps, guess who has HPV?!?! Oops, did we forget to tell you that we can't test for HPV in men?? I'm so angry that they wouldn't let me get vaccinated when I didn't have it because I was "too old." I had to have a colposcopy and biopsies, which were excruciating (apparently they can numb you. they didn't numb me.). The result of the biopsies was that everything is fine, there is no pre-cancer or cancer and I just have to go back in 6 months and get a repeat pap, but the doctor expects my body to clear the infection. I thought I was doing everything right. It was completely unavoidable, unless I wanted to have a sexless marriage, or marry someone else.

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 Post subject: Re: Bad Pap - please get a pelvic exam yearly
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:33 pm 
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ijustdiedinside wrote:
I just had a normal pap and my doc recommended I only go every 2-3 years. I'm not sure what I will end up doing.

Mine was all ready to put me on the three year schedule when I came up with an abnormal one (this was the second time.) I think the three year thing is getting more common for women who haven't had a history of dysplasia. It might make sense if you've had the gardisil vax but there's not really a downside to a pap (like radiation exposure with a mammogram) so, other than saving money, I'm not sure I see a point in a longer schedule.

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 Post subject: Re: Bad Pap - please get a pelvic exam yearly
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 8:50 pm 
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This is a great PSA

Sra. Nooch, I am so sorry you are going through all this. I know how scary this is. Lots of hugs and healing vibes to you!


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 Post subject: Re: Bad Pap - please get a pelvic exam yearly
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 10:26 pm 
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monkeytoes wrote:
ijustdiedinside wrote:
I just had a normal pap and my doc recommended I only go every 2-3 years. I'm not sure what I will end up doing.

Mine was all ready to put me on the three year schedule when I came up with an abnormal one (this was the second time.) I think the three year thing is getting more common for women who haven't had a history of dysplasia. It might make sense if you've had the gardisil vax but there's not really a downside to a pap (like radiation exposure with a mammogram) so, other than saving money, I'm not sure I see a point in a longer schedule.

My doctor said every three years was fine for me. I'm at the doctor for various things at least once a month, so I'm happy to be able to skip this one visit some years.


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 Post subject: Re: Bad Pap - please get a pelvic exam yearly
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 11:01 pm 
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rabidchild wrote:
graffitipassion wrote:
It's pretty hard to avoid HPV since you can even get it with a condom on. Additionally, since men can't really be tested, people may think they are STD free and they are not. I hope you don't beat yourself up for not being the "model" of safe sex. No one really is.

I missed the mark on shots. Came out right as I was turning 25 and it was expensive and not covered by insurance.

I had the LEEP, but didn't have a bad experience with it. Actually, no one seemed alarmed at all that I was getting it. No one even mentioned possible cancer.

I'm not intenting to talk about myself here, and I really sympathize with your ordeal. I suppose I just want to point out that not all abnormal paps are bad signs or mean you are going to get cancer.


The beginning of this sounds like me! I got a pap every year starting several years before becoming sexually active. I've had a grand total of 3 partners - the first was a virgin; the second was someone who had only ever also had sex with a virgin; the third is my husband. Before becoming sexually active with my husband (who was no prude), I made him go get the gambit of STD tests run - I'd had 'em done at my annual. Everything comes back all clear. Five years later and a decade of normal paps, guess who has HPV?!?! Oops, did we forget to tell you that we can't test for HPV in men?? I'm so angry that they wouldn't let me get vaccinated when I didn't have it because I was "too old." I had to have a colposcopy and biopsies, which were excruciating (apparently they can numb you. they didn't numb me.). The result of the biopsies was that everything is fine, there is no pre-cancer or cancer and I just have to go back in 6 months and get a repeat pap, but the doctor expects my body to clear the infection. I thought I was doing everything right. It was completely unavoidable, unless I wanted to have a sexless marriage, or marry someone else.


Yep, sounds similar to my situation. Always 100% careful, always made partners get tested. Blam! HPV. It's really one of those STDs that people don't know enough about. Trying to avoid it means you would need to be abstinent your whole life.

Had abnormal paps for 10 years now. The docs just keep an eye on it. Cut things out when they need to. My last one came out normal, so I'm hoping my body is "fighting" it.

My doctors have always told me there is no reason I should develop cancer as long as I stay on top of it.


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