Learn About Cervical Dysplasia

What is the definition of Cervical Dysplasia?

Cervical dysplasia refers to abnormal changes in the cells on the surface of the cervix. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus (womb) that opens at the top of the vagina.

The changes are not cancer, but they can lead to cancer of the cervix if not treated.

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What are the alternative names for Cervical Dysplasia?

Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia - dysplasia; CIN - dysplasia; Precancerous changes of the cervix - dysplasia; Cervical cancer - dysplasia; Squamous intraepithelial lesion - dysplasia; LSIL - dysplasia; HSIL - dysplasia; Low-grade dysplasia; High-grade dysplasia; Carcinoma in situ - dysplasia; CIS - dysplasia; ASCUS - dysplasia; Atypical glandular cells - dysplasia; AGUS - dysplasia; Atypical squamous cells - dysplasia; Pap smear - dysplasia; HPV - dysplasia; Human papilloma virus - dysplasia; Cervix - dysplasia; Colposcopy - dysplasia

What are the causes of Cervical Dysplasia?

Cervical dysplasia can develop at any age. However, follow-up and treatment will depend on your age. Cervical dysplasia is most commonly caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a common virus that is spread through sexual contact. There are many types of HPV. Some types lead to cervical dysplasia or cancer. Other types of HPV can cause genital warts.

The following may increase your risk for cervical dysplasia:

  • Having sex before age 18
  • Having a baby at very young age
  • Having had multiple sexual partners
  • Having other illnesses, such as tuberculosis or HIV
  • Using medicines that suppress your immune system
  • Smoking
  • Maternal history of exposure to DES (diethylstilbestrol)
What are the symptoms of Cervical Dysplasia?

Most of the time, there are no symptoms.

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What are the current treatments for Cervical Dysplasia?

Treatment depends on the degree of dysplasia. Mild dysplasia (LSIL or CIN I) may go away without treatment. Changes due to HPV infection may also go away without treatment or dysplasia.

  • You may only need careful follow-up by your provider with repeat Pap tests every 6 to 12 months.
  • If the changes do not go away or get worse, treatment is needed.

Treatment for moderate-to-severe dysplasia or mild dysplasia that does not go away may include:

  • Cryosurgery to freeze abnormal cells
  • Laser therapy, which uses light to burn away abnormal tissue
  • LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision procedure), which uses electricity to remove abnormal tissue
  • Surgery to remove the abnormal tissue (cone biopsy)
  • Hysterectomy (in rare cases)

If you have had dysplasia, you will need to have repeat exams every 12 months or as suggested by your provider.

Make sure to get the HPV vaccine when it is offered to you. This vaccine prevents many cervical cancers.

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What is the outlook (prognosis) for Cervical Dysplasia?

Early diagnosis and prompt treatment cures most cases of cervical dysplasia. However, the condition may return.

Without treatment, severe cervical dysplasia may change into cervical cancer.

When should I contact a medical professional for Cervical Dysplasia?

Contact your provider if your age is 21 or older and you have never had a pelvic exam and Pap test.

How do I prevent Cervical Dysplasia?

Ask your provider about the HPV vaccine. Girls who receive this vaccine before they become sexually active reduce their chance of getting cervical cancer.

You can reduce your risk of developing cervical dysplasia by taking the following steps:

  • Get vaccinated for HPV between ages 9 to 45.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking increases your risk of developing more severe dysplasia and cancer.
  • Do not have sex until you are 18 or older.
  • Practice safe sex. Use a condom.
  • Practice monogamy. This means you have only one sexual partner at a time.
Female reproductive anatomy
Cervical neoplasia
Cervical dysplasia - series
What are the latest Cervical Dysplasia Clinical Trials?
Low-cost Mobile Colposcopy and Confocal Imaging for Global Prevention of Cervical Cancer

Summary: Cervical cancer remains the first or second leading cause of cancer death among women in many low-and middle-income countries. Cervical cancer prevention programs in low-resource settings are hampered by a lack of personnel with appropriate clinical expertise, lack of pathology services, and lack of associated infrastructure. There is an urgent need for appropriate diagnostic tools to enable accur...

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A Feasibility Trial of Alternating Intravaginal Application of 5-Fluorouracil and Imiquimod for Treatment of High-Grade Cervical Squamous Intraepithelial Lesions

Summary: This early phase clinical trial studies the side effects of topical fluorouracil and imiquimod ointment in treating patients with high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. Topical fluorouracil may kill precancerous cells. Imiquimod ointment may stimulate the immune system. Applying topical fluorouracil and imiquimod ointment may cause fewer side effects and may be a better way to treat patien...

What are the Latest Advances for Cervical Dysplasia?
A retrospective study of focused ultrasound versus cryotherapy in treatment of cervical squamous intraepithelial lesions.
Comorbid Vulvar Lichen Sclerosus and High-Grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesions: A Management Conundrum.
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Role of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination on HPV infection and recurrence of HPV related disease after local surgical treatment: systematic review and meta-analysis.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: January 10, 2022
Published By: John D. Jacobson, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Practice advisory: updated cervical cancer screening guidelines. www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/practice-advisory/articles/2021/04/updated-cervical-cancer-screening-guidelines. Updated April 2021. Accessed April 11, 2022.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Practice Bulletin No. 140: management of abnormal cervical cancer screening test results and cervical cancer precursors. Obstet Gynecol. 2013;122(6):1338-1367. PMID: 24264713 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24264713/.

Armstrong DK. Gynecologic cancers. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 189.

Fontham ETH, Wolf AMD, Church TR, et al. Cervical cancer screening for individuals at average risk: 2020 guideline update from the American Cancer Society. CA Cancer J Clin. 2020;70(5):321-346. PMID: 32729638 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32729638/.

Hacker NF. Cervical dysplasia and cancer. In: Hacker NF, Gambone JC, Hobel CJ, eds. Hacker & Moore's Essentials of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 38.

Immunization Expert Work Group, Committee on Adolescent Health Care. Committee Opinion No. 704: human papillomavirus vaccination. Obstet Gynecol. 2017;129(6):e173-e178. PMID: 28346275 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28346275/.

Murthy N, Wodi AP, Bernstein H, McNally V, Cineas S, Ault K. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended immunization schedule for adults aged 19 years or older - United States, 2022. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2022;71(7):229-233. PMID: 35176010 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35176010/.

Salcedo MP, Phoolcharoen N , Schmeler KM. Intraepithelial neoplasia of the lower genital tract (cervix, vagina, vulva): etiology, screening, diagnosis, management. In: Gershenson DM, Lentz GM, Valea FA, Lobo RA, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 29.

US Preventive Services Task Force, Curry SJ, Krist AH, Owens DK, et al. Screening for cervical cancer: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. JAMA. 2018;320(7):674-686. PMID: 30140884 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30140884/.

Wodi AP, Ault K, Hunter P, McNally V, Szilagyi PG, Bernstein H. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended immunization schedule for children and adolescents aged 18 years or younger - United States, 2021. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021;70(6):189-192. PMID: 33571172 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33571172/.