An abnormal Pap smear sets off a number of tests to discover the reasons for the abnormality. A colposcopy is one of the most common tests. It allows your doctor to get a closer look at your vagina and cervix. Performed in the comfort of your gynecologist’s office at the Medex Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Queens, NY, it’s a relative quick and painless procedure. If abnormalities are discovered, your doctor sometimes treats them immediately. Otherwise, a tissue sample is sent to a lab to check for cancer. A colposcopy is a preventative procedure usually covered by insurance policies. Call today to speak to a gynecologist.

Any time your gynecologist informs you that there’s a need for furthering tests, it can be frightening. But to make the most accurate diagnosis, every specialist at the Medex Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Queens, New York knows that certainty comes from learning as much as possible. No treatment can begin without an accurate diagnosis.

Sometimes, your Medex specialist wants to confirm an initial diagnosis. Other times, the doctor may need to rule out other conditions. Regardless, when a gynecologist needs to obtain a clearer picture of your cervix or vagina, the accepted technique is to use a specialized magnifying lens with a light in a procedure called a colposcopy.

Most abnormal Pap smears result from natural changes due to menopause or minor viral infections. If you’ve had an abnormal reading on a Pap smear test or if your doctor notices tissue abnormalities during a routine pelvic exam, a colposcopy may be the next step to ensure these changes to your vaginal and cervical tissues aren’t more serious.

Why Would My Doctor Recommend a Colposcopy?

Several possible symptoms and conditions may warrant further testing with a colposcopy. For the test to be effective, make sure you have the test when you’re not menstruating. Avoid it if you think you may be pregnant, as well. The symptoms that may lead to a colposcopy include:

  • Genital warts, as these often indicate a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which places you at a higher risk for cervical cancer
  • Unusual or increased bleeding
  • Non-cancerous or pre-cancerous growths called polyps
  • Inflamed cervical tissue

The goal of observation tests such as a colposcopy is to quickly diagnose and treat any unusual tissue changes. Early detection and care always increase the chance of successful treatment outcomes. If you’re suffering from acute inflammation, a colposcopy may not be appropriate. If your gynecologist suspects pelvic inflammatory disease, other tests are recommended.

What Can I Expect During a Colposcopy?

Avoid creams, lotions, douches, tampons and sexual activity for 24 hours before the test. Make sure your doctor is aware of any medications you’re taking. Tell the gynecologist of any prior bleeding problems you may have experienced or any vaginal, pelvic or cervical infections in your past.

Colposcopy procedures take between 10 and 20 minutes to complete. If your doctor chooses to take tissue samples or remove polyps, the process may take longer. You can expect a series of steps during the procedure, including:

  1. Receiving pain medication or a sedative if you’re anxious about the procedure. If your gynecologist suspects the need for a biopsy, you may receive local or general anesthesia
  2. Being asked to undress from the waist down. You’re given a sheet to drape over your lower body.
  3. Lying on an exam table on your back, with your feet placed in the footrests.
  4. Your doctor inserting a speculum into your vagina to carefully widen the opening.
  5. The doctor swabbing the area with iodine or a vinegar solution to better observe any abnormal tissue. You may feel a slight burning from this solution.
  6. Your gynecologist carefully placing the colposcope at the opening of your vagina to take pictures and possibly a video. The colposcope doesn’t enter your body.
  7. Your doctor possibly taking a small tissue sample, if abnormal tissue is revealed. The biopsy is sent for testing at the laboratory. It’s normal to feel a slight pinch or cramping as the tissue is removed. The doctor may place a medicated paste over the site to reduce these side effects.

After the procedure, the gynecology staff monitor your breathing and blood pressure. You may need to wear a sanitary pad for a few days as it’s common to have mild cramping, spotting and bleeding. Avoid douching, sexual activity and tampons for one week after the procedure. Your doctor may suggest over-the-counter pain relievers if necessary.

What Is My Doctor Looking for?

Abnormal cervical tissue usually appears as white or inflamed areas. Your gynecologist may also check for warts, sores or any changes to your blood vessels. If the laboratory finds abnormal tissue, further testing or treatment may be necessary, such as:

  • Medications to treat infections
  • Hormones to offset menopausal changes
  • More extensive treatments if cancer cells are found

Talk to your gynecologist if you notice increased or significant bleeding or discharge after the procedure. Contact the gynecology department at the Medex Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Queens if you have a fever, pain that isn’t relieved by over-the-counter medicine or bleeding that lasts longer than seven days. You’re always cared for when you come to Medex.

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