When I was about 19 or 20, I had my first abnormal pap smear. I never followed up until I was about 23. After a pap at that time, I still had abnormal cells as a result of having HPV. I went in for a colposcopy and the result was mild dysplasia. From there, I was referred to a specialist. That specialist did his own colposcopy. He then gave me a choice. I could either keep an eye on the progression of the abnormal cells on my cervix or remove them. I chose removal. I figured why give cancer a chance to develop?
The specialist removed the cells with a cervical leep. It was virtually painless until about an hour later. I had the most excruciating menstrual-like cramps I ever had. It only lasted that day. I followed the directions the specialist gave me and when I went for a follow up, he believed it was a success.
But not too long afterward I had abnormal cells again. This time, I opted to keep an eye on things with a check up every 6 months. It never developed into dysplasia, thankfully. A couple of years later, I got married, and got pregnant almost a year after that. I had to have a colposcopy while pregnant :( . But still, it had not progressed enough to do anything but check again after I had the baby. At my yearly check up that was due a few months after i gave birth, my results were NORMAL. Yay! The HPV cleared itself up.
Here I am 4 years later. As a result of the cervical leep, I now have chronic cervicitis. It is a pain because now I have this excess discharge that comes and goes at will. There is nothing I can do but hope it clears up on its own. As annoying as it is, I would much rather deal with this than worry about cervical cancer.
I guess the moral of my story is that preventative care is available. And as scared as we all may be about going to the doctor for fear of what they will find, it is better to know and deal with it before it is too late. I wouldn't want to be on my death bed or in a hospital bed wishing I would have gone to the doctor before it got to that point.