Is LSIL Always Caused by HPV?

HPV is only one of the causes of LSIL.
HPV is only one of the causes of LSIL. (Image: woman image by Mat Hayward from

The acronym LSIL stands for low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions. Along with atypical squamous cells (ASC), LSIL are considered abnormal results of a pap test. LSIL is commonly caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), but there may be other causes, such as inflammation of the cervical cells and atrophic vaginitis.


LSIL occurs in the uterine cervix. Lesions in the cervix are characterized by sheets of cells or individual cells. These cells exhibit abnormal nuclei and have clearly distinguishable borders. These cells are usually found during a pap test.


HPV is the most common cause of LSIL. Thirty different strands of HPV can exist in the genital area. HPV is the most common cause of genital warts. According to Rutgers University, 13 of these 30 strands can lead to cancer. However, it is rare for this to happen, though cervical cancer is almost always caused by HPV.

Cervical Cell Inflammation

Inflammation of the cervical cells may sometimes cause LSIL to turn up in a pap test. Cervical inflammation does not usually indicate there is a problem in the cervix, but your doctor may want to perform several pap tests after the inflammation has first been noticed to make sure that it goes down.

Atrophic Vaginitis

Atrophic vaginitis also refers to inflammation of the cervix and can cause LSIL to be discovered during a pap test. However, in the case of atrophic vaginitis, the inflammation is caused by thinning tissues and decreased lubrication due to reduced estrogen levels. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that this most often occurs during menopause. Other symptoms include pain during intercourse, bleeding after intercourse, blood in the urine and soreness. Atrophic vaginitis is usually treated by vaginal moisturizing creams.

Cervical Dysplasia

Cervical dysplasia can cause LSIL. Cervical dysplasia is caused by HPV. It does not indicate cervical cancer, but can become cancerous. It is an abnormal growth of cells in the cervix. It usually has no symptoms, though it may cause bleeding after intercourse. Mild dysplasia should go away on its own. However, moderate to severe dysplasia may require surgery to remove the growth.

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