Center for True Harmony Wellness & Medicine
OB-GYNs & Naturopathic Gynecology located in Mesa, AZ
When a Pap smear comes back with abnormal results, a colposcopy is done to visually examine your cervix and take a biopsy of tissue, if necessary. Dr. Christine Brass-Jones has extensive experience carefully performing colposcopies, so you can count on her to make you feel at ease during the procedure. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, call the Center for True Harmony Wellness & Medicine in Mesa, Arizona, or book an appointment online.
Colposcopy Q & A
What is a colposcopy?
A colposcopy is a diagnostic procedure in which a device called a colposcope, which resembles binoculars on a stand, is used to examine your cervix, vagina, or vulva (external genitalia). The colposcope provides a well-lit and magnified view so that Dr. Brass-Jones can see surface tissues well enough to identify inflammation and precancerous or cancerous changes. A biopsy can also be performed during a colposcopy, if necessary.
When is a colposcopy performed?
Dr. Brass-Jones may consider a colposcopy if you have abnormal bleeding, evidence of growths on your cervix, or an inflamed cervix. It’s most commonly performed, however, when Pap smear results are abnormal. The procedure may be used to verify the results of treatment for a cervical condition.
What are abnormal Pap smear results?
A Pap smear screens for cervical cancer by gently scraping off cervical tissue and sending it to a lab for evaluation. When the lab technician identifies abnormal cells, they’re graded using the following criteria: (See Ref 2, paras 4-8)
- ASC-US (atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance): changes in cervical cells are found that are not significant enough to be dysplasia and usually resolves without treatment
- LSIL (low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion) abnormal cervical cell changes considered precancerous, and follow-up testing is recommended
- HSIL (high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion): moderate to severe changes that may be precancerous and likely to develop into cancer or localized cancer
- AGC (atypical glandular cells): suggests precancerous changes in cells of the upper cervix or uterus
- Cancer: changes suggest cancerous cells that have spread
What happens during a colposcopy?
Dr. Brass-Jones performs your colposcopy in the office. It proceeds like a typical gynecological exam, using supports for your feet and a speculum to open your vagina so the doctor can see your cervix.
After placing the colposcope just outside your vagina, the doctor swabs your cervix with a vinegar solution, which highlights abnormal cells. If abnormalities are present, a biopsy is done using a small instrument to remove pieces of cervical tissue.
What should I expect after my colposcopy?
If you have a colposcopy without a biopsy, you should be able to return to normal activities, although you may have a little spotting. Women who have a biopsy experience some discomfort for one or two days. Following a cervical biopsy, it’s also normal to have several days of light bleeding and dark discharge due to medication applied to stop bleeding at the biopsy site.