Abnormal results from your Pap smear can be scary, but at Her Wellness, Dr. Garritano and Christina know most of these changes are typically mild, and will be cleared away by your body without any further intervention. Sometimes, however, an abnormal Pap smear may mean you’ll need additional testing such as a colposcopy.
A colposcopy is an out-patient, follow-up procedure from an abnormal Pap test. During a colposcopy, we’ll get a closer look at your cervix and collect cells for a biopsy if needed.
How is a Colposcopy Performed?
Once you’ve discussed your Pap results with Dr. Garritano, the office will call you to schedule your colposcopy. Refrain from sexual intercourse or the use of tampons 48 hours prior to the procedure.
First, Dr. Garritano will address any questions or concerns. A colposcopy begins much like your annual exam; you will undress from the waist down and lie on the exam table with your feet in supports.
Also like your annual Pap test, Dr. Garritano will then insert a speculum into your vagina to open its walls to better access your cervix. She will then position the colposcope a few inches away from your vulva. A colposcope is a medical tool, essentially a microscope that allows us to look more closely at your cervix.
Looking through the colposcope, Dr. Garritano will clear your cervix of mucus and may use a vinegar solution to highlight any areas of abnormal cells. Once these areas are identified, she will use a tool to remove the cells for a laboratory biopsy to determine if they are precancerous changes to the cells. After the biopsy is taken, a solution will be applied to limit the amount of bleeding from your cervix.
This procedure takes approximately 20 minutes in Her Wellness offices. You may experience slight bleeding or spotting for a day or two after the procedure. There are typically few restrictions on your physical activity afterwards, but you will want to refrain from using tampons and engaging in sexual intercourse for at least a week.
Results of a Colposcopy
Lab results will determine what level of treatment, if any, is further needed. Most patients who have a colposcopy at our office will not need further tests or treatment, although we may recommend you schedule a Pap smear sooner than your next annual exam. If further therapies are needed, Dr. Garritano may recommend one of the following:
Loop electrosurgical incision procedure (LEEP): This procedure uses an electricity-powered wire loop to destroy abnormal cells and stop them from spreading.
Cone biopsy: Your doctor removes abnormal cells from your cervix by taking a tissue biopsy in a shape of a cone. This ensures that the entire area of abnormal cells is completely removed.
Cryotherapy: Abnormal cells are frozen and destroyed with cold chemicals, such as liquid nitrogen, to allow healthy cells to replace them.
Laser surgery: Abnormal cells are destroyed with a heated laser beam.
If your Pap test results come back as “abnormal,” please don’t panic, but do ask us questions. Whether we schedule another Pap test or if we see a need for a colposcopy, we are happy to explain why we’re recommending that test and what it could mean for your health.
Do you have a question about your health? Don’t wait for your annual exam. Message Dr. Garritano and Christina today. We are always happy to help.