A Colposcopy is recommended when results of a pap smear shows abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix or the presence of HPV (Human Papilloma Virus). A colposcope is a special magnifying device that doctors use to shine light into the vagina and onto the cervix. The colposcope enlarges the normal view of the cervix and the vagina, to help find problems that cannot be seen by the eye alone. Colposcopy is a diagnostic procedure that is able to provide more information about the abnormal cells displayed on the pap test.
How To Prepare For Your Colposcopy
Colposcopy is done in an office setting and in preparation, please review the following recommendations.
- It is best if you are not on your menstrual cycle on the day of your appointment.
- It is important to not have sex, use tampons or insert anything in the vagina (including vaginal medications) for at least 24 hours before the test.
- You will be instructed to take 600-800mg of ibuprofen about 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment.
- Do not urinate right before your appointment as you will be expected to provide a small urine specimen immediately before the procedure.
How Is The Procedure Performed?
The nurse will ask you a few questions and take your blood pressure prior to getting started with the exam. The urine sample you provide will be used to perform a pregnancy test prior to the colposcopy. You will then be asked to remove your clothes from the waist down and you will lie on your back with your feet raised and placed on stirrups for support. A speculum will be used to hold apart the vaginal walls so that the inside of the vagina and the cervix can be seen. The colposcope is placed just outside the opening of your vagina.
A mild vinegar solution will be applied to your cervix and vagina with a cotton swab. This makes abnormal areas on the cervix easier to see. During colposcopy, your doctor may see abnormal areas. A biopsy of these areas will be done.
During a biopsy, a small piece of tissue is removed from the cervix using an instrument. Cells also may be taken from the canal of the cervix. A special device is used to collect the cells. This is called endocervical curettage (ECC). The biopsies are typically tolerated very well. You may experience some discomfort and cramping with the biopsy. The ibuprofen you have taken prior to your appointment will help minimize the discomfort you experience during and immediately after the test. Your doctor can apply a medical paste after the biopsy(s) that can help with healing.
What To Expect After Your Colposcopy
After you have a colposcopy procedure, your vagina may feel slightly sore for a couple of days. Over-the-counter pain medications can be helpful. If your doctor performed a biopsy or biopsies, you may experience spotting or have a dark-colored vaginal discharge. This dark discharge comes from the medical paste used by your doctor immediately after the biopsy. You will need to wear a pad or panty liner until the discharge stops.
If a biopsy is not performed, you can resume sexual activity as soon as you like. If a biopsy is taken, you should wait about five days before having vaginal intercourse or inserting anything into the vagina. This allows the cervix time to heal.
If a biopsy was not taken, you will be notified immediately of the recommended follow-up. If biopsies were taken, the tissue will be sent to the laboratory for evaluation. You can expect notification of your results within 1-2 weeks. The final plan will be determined based on the results of the biopsies.
Notify our office right away if you have any of these problems after the colposcopy:
- Heavy vaginal bleeding (using more than one sanitary pad per hour)
- Severe lower abdominal pain
Schedule An Appointment Today
Our highly trained staff have years of experience performing Colposcopy procedures and are ready to answer any questions you may have. Please give us a call at 919.636.6670 or schedule an appointment online.