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What can cause an abnormal smear?

How we provide clarity and support following a smear test

An abnormal smear typically warrants further investigation. Whether you are looking at private options following a smear test at your GP or you have had a smear test from our gynaecologists as part of a routine check-up, we're here to put your mind at ease and guide you through the next steps towards a colposcopy.



gynecological speculum in woman's hands in medical sterile gloves on pink background

What can cause an abnormal smear, aside from cancer?

  • Hormonal change: Pregnancy, menopause and even hormonal birth control can influence cervical cell appearance, leading to an abnormal smear.
  • Inflammation: Cervical inflammation due to conditions like vaginitis or cervicitis can cause cell changes that show up on a smear test.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV): This common virus can cause abnormal cell changes.


What are the steps of a colposcopy?

  • Physical examination: You will comfortably lie on an examination table, that has stirrups. Your gynaecologist will insert a speculum and then use a special magnifying microscope called a colposcope to visualise your cervix in detail. They will potentially apply a weak vinegar or iodine solution to highlight any areas of abnormal cell growth.
  • Possible biopsy: A small tissue sample may be taken from your cervix for further laboratory analysis, after a local anaesthetic has been applied.
  • Next steps: Depending on the findings, treatment options may include monitoring, medication or a minimally invasive procedures to remove abnormal cells.

hands, psychology and mental health with a woman in a consultation for gynaecology




The Gynaecology Care Oxford team are here to address your concerns, put your mind at ease and provide support the whole way through.