What Happens When You Get a Cervical Colposcopy and Biopsy
If this is the first request by your gynecologist for you to have a cervical colposcopy or biopsy you may feel a combination of anxiety and fear. Most of these procedures are requested due to an abnormal pap smear, but other reasons include sexual assault forensic examination, diethylstilbestrol exposure, abnormal cervix appearance, or immunosuppression. A gynecologist performs a colposcopy prior to performing a surgical biopsy in order to detect any abnormal cells that may be on the cervix, vagina, or vulva. If any abnormal areas are found a biopsy is performed, and then the cells are viewed by a pathologist. After these test are performed your gynecologist will know whether or not further treatment is needed.
A colposcopy should be scheduled on a day that you do not have your period unless it is an emergency situation. Be sure to let your gynecologist know if your are on your period so that he can schedule you for another day. For simple procedures some doctor offices do not give pain relievers, therefore you should take an over the counter pain reliever an hour or so before the procedure. Also, check with your doctor to make sure the pain reliever is acceptable. Prior to the procedure make sure you do not insert anything in the your vagina for approximately 24 hours such as tampons, douches, and sexual intercourse.
During the Procedure
You will be directed to get undressed from the waist down and then you will lay on the exam table in the same position as if you were getting a pap smear. The gynecologist will then insert a metal or plastic speculum inside of your vagina, again this is similar to a pap smear, and then he will swab you vagina with a vinegar like solution which will help him to see any abnormal cells. Any cells that are abnormal will turn white, which is how he will determine if their are any problems. Sometimes a gynecologist may use an iodine solution to have a better look at any abnormal cells. The vinegar and iodine may burn a bit. The doctor will then place the colposcope outside of your vagina to view the cervix and vagina through a magnified lens. Do not worry, he will not insert the colposcope inside of your vagina. If the gynecologist finds an abnormal area of the cervix or vagina he will proceed with a cervical biopsy. A small piece of abnormal tissue is taken using either a curette (small brush or small metal loop instrument) or a punch biopsy (similar to a hole puncher). During the biopsy you may feel a few small painful pinches. The entire procedure takes approximately 10 minutes.
After the Procedure
After the procedure waiting for your results will be the hardest part. It will take approximately two to three weeks to receive your results. If any abnormal results come back your doctor will proceed with treatment. Some treatment options include cryotherapy, laser removal, cone biopsy, and LEEP. Treatment is very effective, but sometimes multiple treatments are needed. Although problems after a cervical colposcopy and biopsy are rare you should report to your doctor if you experience any heavy bleeding (it is okay to spot for the first week or so), abnormal discharge, fever, sever lower abdominal pain, and chills. *If you are pregnant you may experience more bleeding than others due to the increased blood supply in your cervix.