What to Expect During a Colposcopy

When you come for your annual gynecology exam, your OB/GYN carefully examines your reproductive organs for signs of abnormalities and disease. Depending on your age and situation, they may recommend a Pap smear or a test for the human papilloma virus (HPV). 

If your HPV test is positive or your Pap smear is abnormal, your OB/GYN may recommend another test called a colposcopy. They may also recommend colposcopy if they’ve noticed other signs that need further investigation. A colposcopy helps them make a diagnosis so you can get the treatment you need.

Sharon Smith, MD, our expert gynecologist at OBGYN Care of Houston, performs colposcopy in the comfort and convenience of our office. If Dr. Smith has ordered a colposcopy, here’s what you can expect on the day of your test.

A colposcopy doesn’t hurt

A colposcopy is a procedure that we do with a special type of visual apparatus called a colposcope. A colposcope looks like a pair of high-tech binoculars on a crane. Dr. Smith uses the colposcope to examine your genitals and inside your vagina to investigate and diagnose:

The colposcope doesn’t touch you. The entire procedure usually takes less than 15 minutes. 

A colposcopy is like a Pap smear

The most uncomfortable part of a colposcopy is when Dr. Smith dilates your cervix (the opening of your uterus) with a speculum. But it doesn’t hurt more than or take longer than opening your cervix for a Pap smear.

As with a Pap smear, you lie on your back in the exam room with your feet in the stirrups. After opening your cervix with the speculum, Dr. Smith brushes a solution on your cervix that makes it easier to see abnormal cells and changes. 

She then examines the area with the colposcope. The colposcope’s lenses are powerful magnifiers. The device is also fitted with a light so that she can see the area clearly. 

If Dr. Smith notices abnormal tissue on your cervix, she may take a biopsy. In a biopsy, she removes a small amount of tissue. This may pinch a bit, but should not be painful. 

If she notices abnormal lesions or changes on your vagina, she first administers an anesthetic. She then takes the biopsy so that you don’t feel anything.

Taking care after colposcopy

After your colposcopy, you may feel a little crampy, as if you’re getting your menstrual period. You can take over-the-counter pain medications to stay comfortable.

If you had a biopsy, you may also notice some bleeding or a dark discharge after your procedure. You can use a menstrual pad to absorb the blood or discharge.

After a biopsy, do not:

Dr. Smith makes sure you know what is normal and abnormal after a colposcopy or biopsy and how to keep yourself comfortable. You should also feel free to phone our office if you have any concerns.

To schedule a gynecology exam or colposcopy, contact our Houston, Texas, office today. Dr. Smith also offers virtual consultations.

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