Causes of Cell Changes

My recent smear test result showed borderline cell changes, so was also tested for HPV (the method of testing used in Northern Ireland)- there was no evidence of HPV, and I will be recalled in 3 years’ time.

I’m in my mid-thirties and all previous results were normal (so were not tested for HPV).

I can’t settle as I’m confused and worried about what else could have caused my borderline changes, since they aren’t caused by HPV? I’ve Googled for hours and can’t find any information on this.

I find the result confusing, and was wondering if anyone had a similar result and what happened? Or if anyone could offer any advice?


hi @EvelynB

all our smears do is describe how different the cells look from normal, the sample is taken from an area called the transformation zone… this area gets its name as cells change harmlessly in this location on regular basis replacing old cells with new (this is how if someone has active HPV in some people it can react with the new cell formation and multiply causing the cells to become abnormal) when there is no HPV detected it can mean 1 of 2 things… the one that is more likely: when new cells were forming they mixed with your normal vaginal flora making the cells look slightly different to normal so the cell “changes” arnt of any significance as there isnt a active HPV infection present on the cervix or the unlikely scenario: this isnt to scare you, but in rare cases screening can fail to pick up an active HPV infection producing a false negative result xx

Hi @Tinkerbelle29

Thank you for your reply. The thought of a false negative for HPV is a bit worrying, especially as there are borderline changes, I’m now wondering is it too risky to wait 3 years and better to pay for private smear in between times, or whether the likelihood of a false negative is so small that it would be best to follow NHS guidance and wait the 3 years…

Has anyone else been in a similar position and what did you do?


Hello maybe you could just get an HPV test at home kit for peace of mind.