Everything You Need To Know About Cervical Dysplasia

Image of Cervical Dysplasia under microscope

Cervical dysplasia is a condition that happens when there is an abnormal growth of cells on the surface of the cervix. The problem is that without adequate treatment, it can increase the risk of cervical cancer.

However, the good news is that you can prevent these abnormal cells from becoming cancerous with early detection and the right treatment.

In this article, we will go over everything you need to know regarding cervical dysplasia. We’ll review cervical dysplasia, whether it is life-threatening, its classifications, symptoms, causes, treatment, and other key information regarding this topic.

What Is Cervical Dysplasia?

As mentioned, cervical dysplasia happens when there is an abnormal growth of cells in the cervix. If you haven’t heard about it, you’ve probably heard it under different names, such as “cervical intraepithelial” or “CIN.”

I know it must be frightening or overwhelming to hear the word “precancerous.” However, it’s important to know that cervical dysplasia doesn’t mean that you have cancer or that it is going to turn into cancer.

While it is true that it can increase the risk of cancer, with the right measurements and treatment, you can control the condition.

Cervical dysplasia affects sexually active people with a cervix, like cisgender women, nonbinary people with a cervix, and transgender men. And, it affects those who are infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV). Currently, each year, over 250,000 women are diagnosed with this condition.

Classifications of Cervical Dysplasia

There are three main categories for cervical dysplasia, and they are based on how much epithelial tissue in the cervix has become abnormal. It is classified on a scale of one to three.

Cervical Dysplasia cells diagram

  • CIN 1. Abnormal cells that affect one-third of the thickness of the epithelium.
  • CIN 2. Abnormal cells that affect one-third to two-thirds of the epithelium.
  • CIN 3. Abnormal cells that affect more than two-thirds of the epithelium.

Generally speaking, CIN1 is less likely to develop into cancer, while CIN2 and CIN3 have a higher risk.

Symptoms and Causes

Typically, cervical dysplasia doesn’t cause any symptoms. That is why it’s important to get annual Pap smears.

To get cervical dysplasia, you must have come in contact with HPV. However, in most cases, the body is able to control the virus and get rid of it. In fact, research shows that over 80% of sexually active women may come into contact with the virus at least once.

Some risk factors that can increase the duration of the infection include:

  • Being over 55. Research shows that younger people are able to get rid of the virus faster than older adults.
  • Smoking. Products that contain tobacco can increase the risk of cervical dysplasia.
  • Weakened immune system. Using an immunosuppressant or having HIV can make it more challenging for the body to fight the virus.

Diagnosis and Testing

In a Pap smear, the health professional can determine if any abnormal cells are present. In case the results come positive, it’s important to get a colposcopy to check for abnormal cells in the cervix or vaginal walls.

Your provider may do a colposcopy and biopsy to assess if you have CIN and at what stage.

Treatment and Managing Cervical Dysplasia

Different treatments for cervical dysplasia are determined by age, current health status, the severity of the condition, and personal treatment preferences. However, before you choose any form of treatment, talk to a medical professional to determine each treatment’s pros and cons since certain options can have an impact on future pregnancies.

As mentioned, one of the factors that depends on the treatment of choice is the severity of the condition. If you tested positive for CIN 1 during your last visit to a hospital, the good news is that it may not require any treatment as this disease often disappears naturally.

However, some women might need further therapy if they have CIN 2 or CIN 3. One form of treatment is to let a healthcare provider remove these cells so that they do not turn into cancer at all.

Prevention of Cervical Dysplasia

If you want to keep your cervix healthy, the only way to avoid cervical dysplasia is by preventing an HPV infection. Below are ways you can achieve this.

  • Take the HPV vaccine
  • Have safe sex (or abstain)
  • Get screened regularly
  • Do not smoke tobacco

Cervical Dysplasia Prognosis

Cervical dysplasia doesn’t have to become fatal. That is why there is a big emphasis on early diagnosis. Removing or treating abnormal cells can prevent cervical cancer at up to 95% success rate.

Regular visits to the doctor and routine check-ups enable your gynecologist to observe your cervical health while discouraging any unwanted cell growth from coming back or progressing after removing such unnecessary tissues.


“Cervical Dysplasia Center.” www.hopkinsmedicine.org, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/kimmel-cancer-center/cancers-we-treat/cervical-dysplasia#:~:text=Cervical%20dysplasia%20affects%20between%20250%2C000. Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

National Cancer Institute. “HPV and Cancer.” National Cancer Institute, Cancer.gov, 4 Apr. 2023,