If your doctor has told you that you need a colposcopy, you may be experiencing a range of emotions, with anxiety right at the top of the list. It is normal to be concerned when a doctor orders extra tests, but having a better understanding of the procedure and how you can prepare for it properly can help you feel more at ease.
What Is A Colposcopy?
A colposcopy is a medical procedure in which your doctor will closely inspect your vagina, cervix,and vulva to look for signs of disease. It is often ordered after a pelvic exam or Pap smear points to a possible issue. For example, if a Pap smear indicates the presence of abnormal cells, your doctor may recommend the procedure.
Preparing For Your Colposcopy
Here are some tips for preparing for your colposcopy.
Understand Why You Need The Test
If your healthcare provider has not properly explained the reason they are ordering the procedure, ask them directly why it is needed. There is a broad range of problems it can be used to explore, from genital warts or an inflamed cervix to cancerous and noncancerous cervical growths.
Researching the procedure online could point to a number of scary-sounding outcomes that may have you on edge. Knowing what your doctor will be looking for can help you eliminate some of your worries. Keep in mind that the procedure can also be used to rule out certain issues; it does not necessarily mean you have a serious problem.
Time It Right
When you are scheduling your colposcopy, you need to keep your menstrual cycle in mind. The best time to get the procedure done is a few days after your period is expected to end. It is technically possible to carry out the procedure during your period, but heavy menstrual bleeding may make it more challenging for your doctor to see the cervix clearly. Therefore, it is best to let your provider know when you are expecting your period so they can schedule it at an appropriate time.
Ask Your Doctor If You Should Take Pain Medication
Although a colposcopy is a relatively straightforward procedure, it is not unusual to experience some pain or discomfort, especially if your doctor needs to obtain tissue samples for further examination. You may not be able to predict in advance if this will be necessary, but you can ask your doctor if they recommend taking an over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen before the procedure to be on the safe side. Don’t just do this on your own; ask which medication your doctor recommends, how much to take, and how far in advance of your appointment you should take it.
Know What To Expect
Medical procedures tend to be less frightening when you know what to expect. A colposcopy usually takes around 20 minutes. You will be asked to lie on your back and put your legs in stirrups so your vagina can be held open using a speculum, much like during your Pap smear.
Then, the doctor will use a colposcope, which is a special type of magnifying instrument, to get a closer look at your cervix. This tool never actually enters your body; it will simply be used to get the closer view your doctor needs.
Your doctor may swab your cervix to see it better or apply a vinegar solution to highlight unusual areas, which may cause slight burning or cramping. If your doctor needs to obtain tissue samples, you may experience some pain, but they will keep you informed every step of the way.
In the two days leading up to your procedure, avoid having sexual intercourse or placing anything inside your vagina, such as a tampon, medication, douche, or sex toy. Any objects that are placed into the vagina could lead to inflammation that may make it harder for your doctor to get the view they need. Foreign substances, meanwhile, like ejaculate and medication, could affect lab test results. If you are having your period during this time, use a sanitary pad instead of a tampon or menstrual cup.
Bring Pads With You
It is not unusual to have some light bleeding and dark discharge following the procedure, particularly if your doctor needs to perform a biopsy to get tissue samples. Your doctor may provide you with sanitary pads to wear home, but you may be more comfortable bringing your own.
It is normal to be worried as your appointment approaches, but do your best to stay calm and keep your fears at bay. Spending time with friends and family, meditating, exercising, and yoga are all good ways to de-stress. You’ll also want to try to relax during the procedure as being tense can cause your body to tighten up, making the procedure more uncomfortable. You may want to listen to music to calm yourself down during the procedure; ask your doctor in advance if it is okay to bring headphones to your appointment.
Get In Touch With Raleigh Gynecology And Wellness
For more information about a colposcopy and all of your women’s health concerns, get in touch with the experienced healthcare team at Raleigh Gynecology & Wellness.