Colposcopy: What to Expect

If you have heard of a colposcopy, it is probably because your gynecologist mentioned it in relation to your last PAP smear which was abnormal. Your OBGYN may have recommended this minor procedure for several reasons including unusual bleeding. Let’s get more information about colposcopy and what to expect.

Common Reasons for a Colposcopywoman discussing colposcopy with doctor.

There are several reasons why a colposcopy may be recommended. Frequent reasons include:

  • The results of your last PAP test were abnormal.
  • Your cervix may have looked abnormal.
  • You had a positive test for human papillomavirus (HPV).
  • You are having unexplained bleeding or pelvic pain.

This test checks the wall of your vagina and vulva for cancerous or precancerous tissue. Your gynecologist can diagnose:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Genital warts
  • Vaginal cancer
  • Vulvar cancer
  • Vulva itching

If something looks worrisome, your OBGYN will remove some tissue for a biopsy. 

What to Expect During a Colposcopy

A colposcopy is very similar to a PAP test. A speculum is inserted into the vagina to make it easier to see the cervix within.  However, for this test your doctor uses a colposcope which is a lighted device with a magnifying lens. It remains outside your body during the procedure. 

A solution of vinegar will be applied to your cervix which can highlight anything suspicious turning it white. You may feel some burning when this happens. 

Should the doctor note any concerning tissue, you will feel some pinching or cramping as it is removed for biopsy. Your gynecologist might suggest taking over-the-counter pain meds prior to the test.

A colposcopy takes approximately 20 minutes, no anesthesia is required, and you go home after the test is completed.

What to Expect After the Colposcopy

There are some common side effects and restrictions including the following:

  • Expect some light bleeding for a few days.
  • Expect some light pain in your vagina.
  • Expect you may have a dark discharge from the solution used.
  • Refrain from sexual intercourse, tampons, or douching for a period of time recommended by your physician (usually one week).
  • Use pads to deal with any bleeding or discharge after the test.

Call your OBGYN if you have any severe heavy bleeding, a foul smelling discharge, fever/chills, or severe pelvic pain after the test. 

Some Last Words

If your biopsy is positive/abnormal, you will be scheduled for other tests and procedures to treat the condition.

Scheduling PAP tests on a regular basis gives you the best chance to catch any problematic tissue and be treated.

Contact Dr. Hyler & Associates at (904) 264-1628 with additional questions about an upcoming colposcopy or to schedule your PAP test in Middleburg and Orange Park, FL.

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