If your pap smear is abnormal, your gynecologist may decide to take a closer look at the cervix by doing a colposcopy.

A colposcopy should not be scheduled during a menstrual period, because the blood could make it difficult for the gynecologist to see inside the body.

During a colposcopy, the patient lies down on the exam table with her legs bent and spread apart.  The gynecologist inserts a speculum into the vagina to hold it open during the procedure.  This is not painful, but can sometimes be uncomfortable.  You should tell your doctor if you feel pain or discomfort.

The gynecologist uses a microscope and a bright light to look at the cervix.   If the doctor finds an abnormal spot, she may remove the whole thing or just a piece of it.  The removed tissue will be sent to a pathologist to be tested.  The doctor may also sample the inside of the cervix to find out if there are abnormalities that cannot be seen.

Most women can continue with their daily routine after a colposcopy.  After a colposcopy, the doctor may apply a special paste to the affected area that will help  it heal faster.  This may cause a thick, brownish-black discharge from the vagina for a few days.  Women who undergo a colposcopy can expect some cramping and bleeding for 2 to 3 days after the procedure;  any bleeding should not be heavy.  If you experience severe bleeding, foul-smelling discharge, severe abdominal pain, or any other unusual symptoms, you should call your doctor.

With the help of a colposcopy, your doctor may be able to detect cervical abnormalities and treat them early, giving you the best chance for a successful cure.

For additional information about colposcopy, please click here.

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