An abnormal Pap smear might make you worry for your health, but the team at Georgia Center for Female Health in Peachtree Corners and Decatur, Georgia, can settle your fears with a simple diagnostic procedure called a colposcopy. Lynette D. Stewart, MD, Wanda I. Cape, CNM, MPH, and the team perform colposcopies to catch signs of cell abnormalities early and treat them while it’s still easy. To find out more about colposcopy, call Georgia Center for Female Health, or book an appointment online today.
A colposcopy is a test for cervical cancer available at Georgia Center for Female Health. During a colposcopy, you must lie down on the table just like during a pelvic exam. Your provider expands the walls of your vagina with a speculum, which might feel a bit uncomfortable. Once the speculum is wide open, they have a good view of your cervix.
For better viewing, they rinse your cervix with a solution similar to vinegar. They use a viewing instrument called a colposcope, which illuminates and magnifies it. The colposcope stays outside of your body, but gives your provider a complete view of everything they need to see.
Through the colposcope, your provider performs a visual examination of your cervix. If any of the cells on your cervix look abnormal, they take a biopsy and send the tissue sample to the lab for further testing. The entire process, excluding the lab testing, takes just 5-10 minutes, and you can go home right away.
A colposcopy isn’t necessary for every gynecological patient. The team at Georgia Center for Female Health recommends that you get a colposcopy if you get a Pap test that has abnormal results. Abnormal results on a Pap test aren’t always cause for concern, but could indicate the presence of:
A Pap test could save your life if your provider finds anything abnormal. They can diagnose you quickly and start treatment before your condition becomes serious. You should get regular Pap tests after you turn 21. Until age 29, you should get one every three years. From 30-65, you should either continue getting Pap tests every three years, get a human papillomavirus (HPV) test every five years, or get both together every five years.
The next steps after abnormal colposcopy results depend on a lot of factors. In some cases, the team waits to take any action to see if the abnormal cells go away on their own. In other cases, the biopsy alone is enough to remove all of the abnormal cells, and you don’t need any further treatment.
If the team decides that you need further treatment, they may use one of these approaches to remove the abnormal cells:
The team lets you know which procedure they’ll use and exactly how it works.
To find out more about colposcopy and what the results mean, call Georgia Center for Female Health, or book an appointment online today.