A colposcopy is a fairly common medical procedure that a doctor may recommend to detect signs of disease in your cervix, vagina or vulva, particularly if a Pap smear indicates abnormal results. If your doctor has ordered this procedure, you may have a lot of questions. In addition to concerns about your health, you might also be wondering how it might impact your plans to get pregnant.
Here is a closer look at what the procedure entails and how it may affect your family planning timeline.
What Is A Colposcopy?
A colposcopy is a procedure during which your doctor obtains a closer look at your cervix, vagina, and vulva. It is usually carried out in your gynecologist’s office. You will be asked to lie down and place your feet in stirrups. The doctor will then insert a speculum to hold your vagina open, just as they would to carry out a Pap smear.
However, in a colposcopy, a tool called a colposcope is used to get a clearer view. This magnifying tool will not be inserted into your body. Instead, it is used alongside a bright light outside the body to see inside. Your doctor may identify areas where tissue samples need to be taken to determine the cause of abnormalities. The procedure takes about 20 minutes.
How Soon Can You Get Pregnant After The Procedure?
Many women wonder how long they need to wait before getting pregnant after having a colposcopy. There is not a simple answer to this question. Here is a look at the factors that may influence your pregnancy timeline.
The Suspected Medical Issue
First, you need to keep in mind that an abnormal Pap smear result does not always point to cancer. It simply means that some cells in your cervix have changed. Second, many times, these issues will go away on their own or can be treated easily and your doctor just needs to keep an eye on it via regular screening.
Women who have low-grade abnormalities and are up to date on Pap tests can typically go ahead and try to conceive.
However, if your doctor finds high-grade abnormalities, you may need further treatment. This does not necessarily mean that you have cancer or will get it, but if a type of loop excision, laser ablation, or cone biopsy is needed, you may need to wait a few months to try to get pregnant as some of these treatments could complicate a pregnancy. Your doctor will provide specific instructions.
Even if you do need one of these procedures, keep in mind that most women will go on to have a safe pregnancy and healthy baby afterward. Be sure to discuss your plans with your doctor to get advice tailored to your specific medical situation.
Not all women will need a biopsy during their colposcopy. If your doctor did not need to take any samples during the procedure, you will most likely not have any restrictions in terms of sexual activity after your exam, although you may experience light bleeding or spotting afterward.
However, if your doctor did need to take a biopsy during the procedure, you should avoid placing anything inside your vagina and having sexual intercourse for at least a week after the procedure. Your doctor may instruct you to wait longer, so be sure to follow the specific instructions you are given.
If you get a cone biopsy, which is a procedure in which your doctor removes a small cone-shaped part of your cervix, there are some additional precautions as it takes longer for the cervix to heal. You may be advised to wait four to six weeks after your procedure or until your doctor tells you your cervix has fully healed before having sexual intercourse. You may also be instructed to avoid strenuous exercise, lifting heavy objects, doing heavy housework, swimming, taking baths, or using tampons or douches during this time.
After a cone biopsy, you may experience vaginal discharge that looks like menstrual bleeding for a few weeks. Your period may also be later or heavier than usual, so you may wish to wait until your cycle returns to normal before trying to conceive.
Get In Touch With Raleigh Gynecology And Wellness
Reach out today to Raleigh Gynecology and Wellness to make an appointment to discuss your health concerns. Our team of highly trained physicians can help women of all ages manage a broad range of conditions and disorders. Compassionate and specialized care are core values of our practice and our friendly doctors will be happy to discuss how any abnormal Pap results and subsequent follow-up procedures could impact your family planning timeline.