If you OB/GYN receives an abnormal Pap test (which is quite common – about 10 percent of Pap tests show abnormal cells), he or she will recommend that you have a colposcopy. A Pap test is a screening tool that tells your doctor whether there are any cell changes happening on your cervix. A colposcopy is a more thorough diagnostic procedure that allows your gynecologist to examine your cervix for any abnormal cells or blood vessels using a microscope known as a colposcope. It will also allow him or her to see if there are any changes in your vagina, cervix or uterus. A colposcopy may also help your doctor determine if you need to have a test for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
There are no colposcopy side effects except for an occasional discharge after a colposcopy procedure and some bleeding after a colposcopy biopsy.
Most abnormal Pap smear results are caused by viral infections — such as the human papillomavirus or HPV. Sometimes abnormal results are due to natural changes that happen during menopause. On rare occasions, an inflamed cervix or symptoms such as pain or abnormal bleeding point to a more serious condition, including cancer. In these cases, a tissue sample taken at the same time, a colposcopy biopsy, can confirm the suspected condition.
If your gynecologist in Queens, NYC finds genital warts, inflamed tissue, non-cancerous growths, or polyps in your uterus or on your cervix, he or she can diagnose and treat them right away, during or after your colposcopy. HPV stands for human papillomavirus. It’s the most common sexually transmitted infection. HPV is usually harmless and goes away by itself, but some types can lead to cancer or genital warts. If your results show HPV, a colposcopy procedure can rule out more serious health conditions associated with it.
Preparation for Your Colposcopy
A colposcopy is usually performed by your gynecologist right in Forest Hills, Queens office. Here is how you should prepare for your visit:
- Try to schedule your colposcopy when you are not menstruating.
- Take an over-the counter pain reliever recommended by your doctor 30 to 60 minutes before the procedure if you are worried about mild cramping.
- Do not insert anything into your vagina for a full 24 hours before the procedure — including vaginal creams, douches or tampons.
- Do not have sex within 24 hours of your procedure — that includes sex after colposcopy procedures.
- Do not take aspirin before the colposcopy procedure without your doctor’s knowledge, as it can increase the chances of bleeding. Your doctor will ask you to discontinue any prescription blood thinners a few days before the procedure.
- Discuss the possibility that you are pregnant with your gynecologist. He can probably do the colposcopy without injury to you or your fetus, but he may decide not to do a biopsy.
- Tell your doctor about any medications you are taking or any allergies to medications.
- Discuss any bleeding problems you have had in the past.
- Tell your gynecologist in Queens, NYC if you have been recently treated for a vaginal, cervical or pelvic infection.
Colposcopy Procedure Details
A colposcopy procedure usually takes 10 to 20 minutes. It’s primarily an observational test that allows your gynecologist to visually examine your reproductive organs. He only needs to do a colposcopy biopsy procedure if he finds something unusual. Just because you have a colposcopy, HPV infections or other serious complications are not always detected. During the procedure:
- You undress from the waist down, but are draped with a sheet.
- You then lie down on the exam table with your feet in stirrups.
- Your doctor inserts a speculum into your vagina to keep it open and widen it slightly.
- A swab of a vinegar solution or iodine may be used on a particular area to allow your gynecologist to better see abnormal tissues. This solution may produce a slight burning or tingling sensation.
- Once the colposcope is maneuvered into position, your Forest Hills, Queens doctor makes his observations.
- Photos or even video may be taken for medical purposes.
Your doctor looks for white areas on your cervix, which signal abnormal changes. The list of things your doctor might be looking for might include sores, warts, or vascular changes. If anything seems unusual or abnormal, he or she will take a very small tissue sample (a colposcopy biopsy) to send to the lab. It typically takes one to two weeks for your doctor to get the results.
Because your doctor can’t see everywhere with a colposcope, he may decide to take a sample of tissue from inside your cervix. To do this, he performs a test called an endocervical curettage. Gently inserting a small, sharp-edged tool called a curette into your vagina, he takes a small sample of tissue. The test usually takes less than a minute. It may cause some mild cramping and should not be done if you are pregnant.
Aftercare and Colposcopy Side Effects
If your doctor didn’t need a biopsy, you should feel fine after your colposcopy. There’s a rare chance of some minimal spotting. Bleeding after colposcopy biopsy procedures, though, is common. It mimics a light period for a day or two.
You may experience some mild cramping for 24 to 48 hours, but you can take over-the-counter pain relievers recommended by your gynecologist. You may also notice some dark discharge after colposcopy procedures, likely due to the solutions used by your doctor. This is normal.
If your doctor performed a colposcopy biopsy, you should avoid having intercourse, douching or using a tampon for 3 days. Avoid exercise for at least one day. Contact your doctor if you have any of the following:
- The discharge begins to have a strong, foul odor.
- Your pain does not improve with over-the-counter medication.
- Bleeding continues for longer than seven days.
- Significant bleeding occurs, which causes you to use more than one sanitary pad per hour.
- You have severe lower abdominal pain.
- You run a fever or have chills after a colposcopy biopsy.
Special Considerations Regarding a Colposcopy Biopsy
If you test HPV positive, your gynecologist in Queens, NYC will need to do a colposcopy to provide an accurate diagnosis. If your Pap smear and colposcopy show very different results, you may need to repeat each test. The results of your biopsy determine if and what further treatment you need.
Since women with HPV are more susceptible to cervical cancer, they may have a colposcopy without an abnormal Pap smear. Your doctor wants to be more diligent in screening for cancer. As with any test or procedure, open communication with your doctor about your medical history is essential for the most effective results.
Forest Hills Medical Services is a comprehensive clinical practice. In our office we believe that how you are treated is just as important as the medical care we provide. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality obstetrics and gynecology with warmth and compassion. Our physicians are easy to talk to and our entire staff is friendly and attentive to your needs.
The best gynecologists in Queens who are part of the Forest Hills Medical Services team are renowned for their extensive skills in performing colposcopy, colposcopy biopsy and recommending the right course of treatment.
We will listen to all your concerns and together we will come up with the treatment plan that works for you and your unique circumstances.
Call FHMS to meet our staff in our state-of-the-art offices and be heard.
Gynecologists Dr. James Gohar (OBGYN Doctor), Dr Nithya Gopal and Maris Huffman, NP
Forest Hills Medical Services
108-16 63rd Rd
Forest Hills, NY 11375
☎ (718) 897-5331