Why do you need a colposcopy?
Your provider has referred you to this clinic because you have had 1 or more abnormal Pap smears. That is a warning sign that you need more evaluation.
We look at your cervix magnified through a colposcope. Your vagina and vulva can also be viewed through this.
We put vinegar on because it causes abnormal areas to turn white. Tissue samples (biopsies) can be taken of any abnormal places.
If your cervix looks normal, you may not need a biopsy.
Pap smears and human papilloma virus (HPV) tests are good at showing abnormalities, so it is not likely that your cervix will look normal. It is much more likely that you will have biopsies. We will then be able to suggest treatments.
Does an abnormal Pap smear mean cancer?
No, except in very rare cases. Most abnormal Pap smears mean dysplasia or abnormal cells.
In some women, dysplasia will go away without treatment. But for some women it can turn into cervical cancer after 5 to 10 years.
We suggest you get treatment for dysplasia. It is very good at preventing cervical cancer.
What will a colposcopy feel like?
You may have some minor discomfort during the cervix examination. This is mostly because it is not a comfortable position.
We may use a numbing medicine on the cervix before taking the biopsies. This will lessen your pain.
People have different reactions to the procedure so it is hard to predict how you will feel. Most people have mild to moderate pain that feels like menstrual cramping.
- You may or may not have vaginal bleeding for a few days to 2 weeks.
- We use a product called Monsels to stop bleeding at your biopsy site.
- It looks dark-brown or black when it mixes with blood.
- It is normal for your vaginal discharge to be brown, black, red, or pink.
- Use sanitary pads only. You can use tampons with your next period if you wish.
- Do not have sex, use tampons, or douche for a week.
- You may take tub baths or showers.
- You can go back to work and your normal activities the same day as colposcopy.
Getting your results and follow up
- The Pap smear and biopsy results will take 2 to 3 weeks to come back.
- Call the our clinic and ask for the colposcopy nurse if you have not heard from us in 4 weeks.
- Make sure that we have your phone number and address so we can let you know your results.
- If your test results show you need treatment, we will call you by phone to schedule this.
- You can be treated in the clinic most of the time, even for:
- Your treatment is decided by the area that is involved and the degree of abnormality.
- LASER surgery
- Destroys abnormal cells by using a LASER machine that has a strong, thin beam of light that burns or vaporizes the abnormal cells
- LEEP (Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure)
- Uses a wire loop to remove abnormal cells–the tissue is sent to a pathology lab for more testing.
- Freezing of the cervix
- Cone biopsy
- A cone shaped piece of tissue is removed from the cervix using either a laser beam or surgical blade. This is done in the operating room under anesthesia.
- Fluorouracil or Aldara creams
- Special creams used to treat abnormal cells of the vagina
Ask us if you would like a handout on any of these treatments.