Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Tested positive for LSIL but had HPV shot three weeks before. Could I have gotten a false positive?"
I had a pap test done while I was on my period. My gyno told me the test may not read correctly and she asked me if I wanted to take it anyway. I said yes. Now my pap test results are in and they say I tested positive for low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion. The test on my cervical cells are apperently infected with a high-risk type of HPV. But I had an HPV shot weeks ago and my sexual partner doesn't seem to have HPV and we have always used condoms. I wonder if I got a false positive when I got my pap test during my period. Is that possible?
I would recommend that you make an appointment with your gynecologist to discuss your results. To answer your question, let me first explain what exactly a pap smear is. A pap smear is a scraping of cells from the cervix that are analyzed under the microscope to look for any features or changes that suggest the cells are cancerous. It's basically a screening test to look for cancer cells. We sometimes do HPV testing with pap smears because a person is more likely to have cancerous cells if they are also HPV positive. So, the fact that you had abnormal cells on your pap is also consistent with being HPV positive. Many people get infected with HPV at some point in their life, without it necessarily manifesting as genital warts or causing cancer. If you have been sexually active in the past without condoms, it is very possible that you were infected with HPV at some point and just never knew it because you were never tested. Furthermore, the HPV vaccine only protects against certain strains of HPV, and, like all vaccines, only protects you against future infections. Finally, having a pap smear during your period can make the test more difficult because it can be harder to get an adequate sample. However, if they had enough cells there to see what they look like and to do the HPV testing, it is likely that this is a real result. This is clearly a confusing topic. Again, I would recommend that you make an appointment with your gynecologist to discuss your results and any further questions. It is also important that you undergo follow-up testing, given your result of LSIL, to make sure that you don't have any actual cancerous lesions that need to be treated.
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