In some women who have the so-called cervical erosion, the sensitive red mucus outside the cervix reacts to the acidic mucus secreted by the vagina and converts into the thick, light-colored vaginal mucosa. This change of one type of mucus into the other is called metaplasia. The change usually does not cause any problems, although in some women (for unknown reasons) abnormal cells are produced on the surface affected by metaplasia. This abnormality is called cervical dysplasia.
In most cases there are no symptom or dangers to health. However, some forms of dysplasia – if not cured – may develop into cervical cancer after 10 to 15 years.
What to do?
Each woman should regularly go to the examination and do the cervical screening (smear test). If the examination points to the possibility of dysplasia, you will need to go to a gynecologist who will look at your cervix with a special microscope (the procedure is called colposcopy), and do the biopsy. Treatment will eventually be required, which will depend on the shape of the dysplasia.
The area affected by dysplasia is removed by a special biopsy method called conization (excision of a cone-shaped sample of tissue) or destroying it by cautery or laser beams. The conization is performed under the general anesthesia and requires a stay in the hospital – one to two days – as well as resting (about two weeks) at home. Conization allows a more detailed inspection and examination of the affected surface. One important (and negative) side effect is that, in very rare cases, conization may cause an abortion tendency. Other procedures are painless and can be performed in an outpatient clinic.
Women who have dysplasia and do not intend to have more children, and especially if they have abundant or painful menstruation, are usually advised to remove the uterus to prevent possible cervical cancer development. After treating the dysplasia, you should take cervical screening once every year, in the first five years, and then once every three years for a timely detection of possible re-appearance of dysplasia.