4 Questions to Ask Your Gynecologist About Colposcopy Procedure
A colposcopy test is important for all women. Cobb Women’s Health offers colposcopy tests. Talk to our team of healthcare professionals today about the procedure and its benefits. Call us for more information or request an appointment online. We are conveniently located at 1810 Mulkey Road, Suite 102, in Austell, Georgia.
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When you visit your doctor or gynecologist for a check-up, they may want to do a colposcopy, to look for changes in the health of your vagina, cervix, and vulva. In particular, a doctor will perform a colposcopy to find cancerous cells, or abnormal cells that could become cancerous, sometimes termed “precancerous tissue.” In addition, a colposcopy is used to find other conditions like genital warts or polyps, which are non-cancerous growths.
Starting at age 21, women begin to undergo annual PAP smear screenings until age 29, and if results are normal the screening is lengthened to every 3 years. Women over 30 are encouraged to also receive testing for the HPV virus (Human papillomavirus) during their PAP smear. If the cervical screening, or PAP smear results reveal abnormal cells, on follow-up a colposcopy will be performed of the abnormal areas to look for cancerous or precancerous cells. Approximately six out of ten women who have a colposcopy performed have abnormal cells in the cervix, however, this does not mean they are cancerous cells, but left untreated they can develop into cancer. In very rare circumstances, a woman is found to have cervical cancer during a colposcopy procedure.
Just like your annual screenings, a colposcopy can be performed at either your primary care doctor’s office or your gynecologist’s office, and performed in a similar manner. You will be lying down on the exam table, placing your heels in the stirrups at the end of the table. Your doctor will use an instrument called a speculum, which is inserted into the vagina to give the doctor a clearer view of your cervix, and apply a solution that allows them to see the abnormal areas. The colposcopy device is positioned as close to the vagina as possible, but is not put inside the body. If your doctor identifies anything that looks unhealthy, they will perform a biopsy by removing a small sample of tissue to then be tested by a pathologist. A pathologist will examine the tissue sample under a microscope to identify any abnormal cells. A colposcopy can identify if cancer or precancerous tissue are present, but only after an examination of the cells of tissue by a pathologist can a diagnosis be made. It is also possible that if the abnormal area is very small, your doctor may be able remove the entire area during the biopsy.
There are some important suggestions your doctor will provide you with prior to your colposcopy procedure, such as:
• Stop use of vaginal medicines, creams, powders or foams
• Avoid vaginal intercourse.
• Avoid tampon use or any vaginal product.
• Do not request the week of your period.
• Inform your doctor if you are, or might be pregnant.
• Ask your doctor about over the counter pain medication in case of biopsy.
The colposcopy procedure has no side effects, however, if a biopsy is performed during the colposcopy, for a few days following you may experience vaginal discharge from the solution used by your doctor to reduce bleeding during the biopsy. It is possible you might experience cramping, soreness or bleeding, and if any of these symptoms persist or get worse or accompanied by a fever, call your doctor immediately.
If you’ve received an abnormal screening test result from a Pap smear, Cobb Women’s Health in Austell, Georgia, offers colposcopy procedures performed by one of our highly trained professionals. Send us a text, call our office or visit our website for directions or to request your appointment. We serve patients from Austell GA, Lithia Springs GA, Mableton GA, Powder Springs GA, Douglasville GA, Fair Oaks GA, Hiram GA, Clarkdale GA, Smyrna GA, and Marietta GA.
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