Should I Worry If I Need a Colposcopy?

Nobody looks forward to getting a Pap smear, also known as a Pap test. That feeling of exposure, the cold spectrum, and the stirrups all rank up there with root canals and other terrifying thoughts. However, regular Pap tests at your gynecologist’s office can help detect abnormal cells, which could cause cervical cancer.


Abnormal Pap Test Results

Receiving abnormal results from your Pap smear can be extremely stressful. Being told by your doctor that you need a follow-up colposcopy will increase your anxiety. Colposcopy is a medical term that sounds quite scary. However, there is no reason for the actual test to scare you.

The first thing you need to understand is that modern treatments can prevent you from getting cervical cancer. This is because abnormal cellular changes take place over several years. Therefore, if your Pap smear provides abnormal results, your doctor will be able to address the problem before it progresses to cancer.


Recommendations From the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists


  • Women aged between 21 and 29 should get a Pap smear every three years.

  • Women aged between 30 and 65 should get a Pap smear combined with a human papillomavirus test every five years.

  • Women with certain health conditions, such as those with a weakened immune system, HIV/AIDS, or a history of cervical cancer, may need more frequent testing.


What Happens After Abnormal Pap Smear Results?

If the results of your Pap test were abnormal, your doctor would probably recommend a colposcopy. When you receive this recommendation, do not panic. Most women who get this follow-up test do not have cancer.


What Is a Colposcopy?

The routine for a colposcopy is similar to that of a Pap test. This time, however, your doctor will examine your cervix using a magnifying glass to get a better look at the abnormal cells. They will wipe the area with acetic acid, which will turn the abnormal areas white. Your doctor may also use a DySIS, a digital colposcopy system, to identify the exact location of the abnormal cells.

A colposcopy, therefore, is a procedure designed to examine a woman’s vagina, cervix, and vulva for any signs of disease. If your doctor finds abnormal cells during the procedure, they will collect tissue samples for laboratory testing. Knowing what to expect during the procedure should help you fight anxiety and feel more comfortable.

Your doctor may recommend a colposcopy to diagnose the following conditions:

  • Precancerous changes in your vulva.

  • Genital warts.

  • Precancerous changes in your vagina’s tissue.

  • Precancerous changes in the tissue of your cervix.

  • Inflammation of the cervix.


Why You Should Feel Comfortable About Your Colposcopy

Instead of worrying, you should embrace the many benefits this procedure provides. Getting a colposcopy, for example, can be crucial to your overall health and wellbeing. One of the reasons why cervical cancer is rare in the United States is because of colposcopies. They are an excellent diagnostic tool. Also, a colposcopy is convenient and will allow you to learn about your body.

To learn more about colposcopy, visit Partners in Obstetrics & Women's Health at our office in New Lenox, Illinois. You can also call (815) 240-0554 today to book an appointment.

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