Pap smears are vital to ensure you get treatment for cervical cancer at an early stage, but an abnormal test result doesn't automatically mean you have cancer. To find out why your Pap smear is abnormal, the OB/GYNs at Providence Women's Healthcare in Roswell, Suwanee, and Atlanta, Georgia, use minimally invasive colposcopy to examine your cervix and take tissue samples for further analysis. To discuss your abnormal Pap smear and find out how colposcopy can help, call Providence Women's Healthcare today or book an appointment online.
A colposcopy is an in-office procedure your Providence Women's Healthcare provider might perform if you have an abnormal Pap smear result.
A Pap smear is a routine screening test for cervical cancer. It involves having a swab taken of your cervical cells that undergoes lab testing. Pap smears can detect the slightest change in the cells, but don't provide details of what's causing the changes, which is why you need a colposcopy.
The colposcope is a magnifying device that provides a clear view of your cervix so your provider can determine the location and type of the abnormal cells. It's also possible to take biopsies (tissue samples) during your colposcopy for testing.
Analysis of the biopsy results shows whether the cells in your cervix are precancerous or cancerous. Your provider can then recommend the most appropriate treatment.
A colposcopy is a straightforward procedure that takes around 5-10 minutes. You lie on an exam table with your knees raised and legs apart so your provider can access your vagina. They open the vagina with a speculum and repeat the Pap smear, and then insert the colposcope.
A vinegar solution on your cervix helps to highlight any abnormalities. You might experience a sensation of cold or mild burning when the liquid touches your cervix, but it shouldn't be painful.
If your provider performs a biopsy during your colposcopy, you might feel a little discomfort and cramping. They apply a liquid to your cervix that soothes these sensations.
Any aftereffects of your colposcopy usually go away within a couple of hours, so you should be able to carry on with your day afterward. If your provider took tissue samples, you might experience some minor bleeding or a vaginal discharge that resembles brown or black coffee grounds. These issues should resolve themselves in a few days.
When they have the results of your colposcopy, your gynecologist contacts you to discuss the findings and what the next steps should be. One common option is a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP).
Your gynecologist at Providence Women's Healthcare performs LEEP as an outpatient procedure. They pass a thin, electrified wire loop into your vagina and use it to cut out a cone-shaped section of your cervix containing the abnormal cells.
If your Pap smear result is abnormal, the chances are good that you don’t have cervical cancer. To find out for sure and get timely treatment if cancer is present, call Providence Women's Healthcare today or book a consultation online.