Cervical dysplasia occurs in women when abnormal cells develop on the surface of the cervix. In most cases, cervical dysplasia does not cause symptoms and clears up on its own or through treatment. However, without treatment, these abnormal cells can eventually lead to invasive cervical cancer in 30–50% of cases.

Cervical dysplasia is described as mild, moderate, or severe, depending on how abnormal the cells are. Human papillomavirus (HPV), which can be transmitted through sexual contact, causes most cases of cervical dysplasia. Smoking also can increase risk, since chemicals in tobacco can change cervical cells. Cervical dysplasia usually responds well to treatment.

Here are some questions to ask your doctor about cervical dysplasia. Print this page, note which questions you’d like your doctor to answer, and take it with you to your appointment. Being informed about cervical dysplasia can help you and your doctor treat it quickly and reduce your risk for cervical cancer.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Cervical Dysplasia

  • What was unusual about the results of my last Pap smear?
  • Do these results indicate that I have cervical dysplasia?
  • If I have a family history of cervical cancer, how can I reduce my risk?
  • Will I have additional tests to determine if my case is mild, moderate, or severe?
  • Should I have an HPV test? If so, what does this test involve?
  • What is a colposcopy? Will I need this procedure?
  • Is this procedure painful? If so, how will the pain be controlled?
  • Will I need to have a cervical biopsy?
  • If so, what kind of procedure do you recommend?
  • How should I prepare for this biopsy procedure?
  • Is there a recovery period following biopsy?
  • Will I need endocervical cutterage? If so, what does this procedure involve?
  • What can I do about cramping after the procedure? How long can I expect cramping to last?
  • Will I need a D & C? If so, what does this procedure involve?
  • What should I expect before, during, and after D & C?
  • Where will these diagnostic tests or biopsies be performed?
  • Who will conduct these tests and procedures?
  • Who will analyze the results?
  • When can I expect the test results?
  • Will someone contact me with the results or should I call?
    Name of person to call: Telephone number:
  • What are my cervical dysplasia treatment options?
  • What do electrocauterization, cryosurgery, and cyrocauterization involve? Do these procedures require anesthesia?
  • What should I expect after the treatment procedure?
  • If I have any complications after the procedure, what should I do?
    Name of person to call: Telephone number:
  • Will removed tissue be analyzed by a pathologist?
  • If so, what will he or she be looking for? Will someone let me know the findings?
  • How often should I schedule follow-up appointments?
  • How frequently should I have a Pap test?
  • What is DES? How can I find out if my mother took it when she was pregnant with me?
  • How can chemicals in tobacco change cervical cells? What if my sexual partner smokes?
  • What questions should I ask sexual partners to reduce my risk for cervical dysplasia?
  • I feel embarrassed asking these questions. Do you have any advice?
  • What dietary changes can I make to protect help reduce my risk for cervical dysplasia?
  • Where can I learn more about cervical dysplasia? Can you recommend any books, websites, or support groups?
  • Do you recommend that I participate in a clinical trial for patients who have cervical dysplasia? Why or why not?

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 21 Mar 2009

Last Modified: 02 Dec 2011