Abnormal Pap test results, pelvic pain, and heavy bleeding are a few of the reasons your provider may recommend a colposcopy. If you’re not familiar with this simple procedure that allows your doctor to inspect the cells of your cervix, you may wonder what to expect.
At Yakov Levy MD PC, with offices in Midtown East, Manhattan, and Forest Hills, Queens, New York, Dr. Levy and our care team want you to feel empowered and prepared when it comes to your health. We’ve put together this informative guide to help you better understand what’s involved in a colposcopy.
A colposcopy is a medical diagnostic procedure that examines the cervix, vulva, and vagina. The procedure takes less than 30 minutes and doesn’t require anesthesia.
Your provider uses a colposcope to get an illuminated, magnified view, typically after abnormal Pap test results. Other reasons your provider may order a colposcopy include:
- Your cervix appears abnormal during an exam
- You test positive for human papillomavirus (HPV)
- You have unexplained bleeding or other vaginal issues
Dr. Levy may also use a colposcopy if he suspects cervical cancer, genital warts, vaginal cancer, or vulvar cancer.
Preparing for your colposcopy
We understand that you may have concerns about how to prepare if you’re not sure what to expect from your colposcopy. Here are a few tips to ensure that particles that could hinder our ability to get clear results don’t contaminate the tissues inside your vagina:
- Avoid intercourse for 24 hours before your colposcopy
- Don’t use any vaginal medications, lubricants, gels, ointments, or douches for 24 hours before your procedure
- Avoid scheduling your procedure during your period
- Stop using tampons at least 24 hours before your colposcopy
While colposcopies aren’t painful, you may experience minor pressure or discomfort. Feel free to take over-the-counter pain medications, like ibuprofen, a few hours before your procedure to help you stay comfortable.
During your colposcopy
You can expect your colposcopy to feel similar to having a Pap smear or routine pelvic exam. You rest on the exam table with your feet in the supports, and Dr. Levy gently inserts a speculum that expands to hold open the walls of your vagina.
The colposcope, which acts like a magnifying lens, is then placed near your vulva. Using a bright light, Dr. Levy can examine your vagina and cervix.
Sometimes, we may need to take a small tissue sample for further examination in the lab. In this case, we may perform a cervical or vaginal biopsy. You may feel mild-to-moderate pain in this case, sometimes described as a sharp pinch or pressure. If needed, Dr. Levy can provide a local anesthetic to keep you comfortable.
After your colposcopy
Your recovery depends on whether you had a biopsy. Patients whose colposcopy didn’t involve a biopsy shouldn’t experience bleeding or pain. If you had a biopsy, you may notice light bleeding for a few hours or up to a few days, depending on the extent of the biopsy. Use a sanitary pad until the bleeding stops.
All colposcopy patients can leave the office immediately after the procedure, and you can return to most of your usual activities right away. Avoid sexual intercourse for one week after a biopsy, and use pads instead of tampons during this time.
About 60% of women who undergo colposcopy receive results that show cervical or vaginal abnormalities. Typically, this means early detection, which improves treatment outcomes and enables you to have the best prognosis possible. Colposcopy results may include:
- Abnormal tissues
- Polyps or genital warts
- Precancerous cells
- Cervical cancer
- Abnormal blood vessels
Standard colposcopy results take 1-2 weeks; biopsy results may take up to four weeks. Dr. Levy discusses any diagnoses with you, and our team collaborates to create a treatment plan if required.
If you have more questions about what to expect from your colposcopy or if you’re looking for the right team for your procedure, contact the Yakov Levy MD PC office nearest you or schedule an appointment online now. We also offer telehealth consultations.