A colposcopy is a diagnostic test designed to take a closer look at your cervix and vaginal tissue after an abnormal Pap test result. While they usually require some form of follow-up to rule out abnormalities, a positive Pap test isn’t necessarily a sign of cancer or a sexually transmitted infection like HPV (human papillomavirus) or genital warts.
If you have an abnormal Pap smear result, there is no need to panic! Depending on the initial findings, abnormal pap tests are typically followed up with a simple diagnostic procedure known as a colposcopy.
What to expect during and after a colposcopy
A colposcopy is usually the next step after an abnormal Pap test result. Changes in the cervix and vaginal cells and tissue can be difficult to see with the naked eye during a standard pelvic exam. If a pap test detects changes to cervix cells or signs of abnormal tissue growth, a colposcopy allows our team to take a closer look to determine if you’ll need further testing.
The colposcopy procedure is similar to your regular pelvic exam and is performed in-office. Using a colposcope, a small diagnostic instrument equipped with a light and magnifying capabilities, one of our gynecologists will perform a more thorough examination of your cervix and vaginal tissue to look for any signs of abnormal growths or infection.
Depending on what they find, they may take a sample of tissue cells during the colposcopy and send them to a lab for a biopsy. If everything looks normal, you may be advised to schedule another follow-up exam and Pap test in a few months to rule out further problems.
A colposcopy is a safe and routine procedure. A typical colposcopy exam takes 10 to 20 minutes, and the process is the same as your normal pelvic exam and pap smear.
If you need a biopsy, the process can feel like a clip or scrape of your cervical or vaginal tissue and produce mild discomfort. It usually doesn’t require anesthesia, but it may be available if a larger sample of vaginal tissue is needed.
You may experience some discomfort or light spotting for a few days after the colposcopy, but otherwise, you can go home after the procedure and resume your normal activities. If our takes a biopsy, they’ll contact you with the results and let you know if additional testing or treatment is necessary.
For more information about colposcopy and other women’s health services and screenings, contact us today to schedule an appointment with a gynecologist at our office in Houston, Texas, or request an appointment online.