If you are reading this, you may have recently been referred by your doctor to get a colposcopy.
Colposcopies are rarely talked about so can evoke some distress and confusion for patients upon referral.
Here we hope to provide some details about the procedure, what to expect, and why it’s a great step to help you get on top of your reproductive health.
What Is a Colposcopy Exam?
A colposcopy, pronounced kol-POS-kuh-pee, is typically referred to patients following an abnormal Pap smear.
Abnormal Paps suggest some cell changes have occurred on the cervix, vagina, or vulva. The device, called a colposcope offers a way to get a closer look at what is going on internally.
How Does the Procedure Work?
Colposcopies are typically performed by gynecologists.
During the exam, you will be asked to remove your clothes from the waist down. Your feet are placed into two stirrups and a speculum is used to view the vagina and cervix.
A solution of acetic acid is applied to the area using cotton swabs to make it easier to observe any cellular changes. The acid can burn slightly upon application and may cause slight discomfort.
The physician will then move the colposcope into view, depicting an image of the cervix on a digital screen. Many physicians will offer you the option to take a look at the screen, but you can also choose to look away if you wish.
Here, the physician can visualize the cervix and observe any changes in color, discharge, irritation, etc. Depending on the observation, the physician may decide to take a swab or biopsy of the cervix for further examination of cell changes.
There are two types of biopsies, one taken from the outside of the cervix and another from the inside opening. The biopsy may cause mild discomfort but is generally quick and painless.
What Happens Next?
Because abnormal cell changes depicted on the cervix will usually be cleared by a healthy immune system within two years, most patients will be asked to monitor the situation by getting a follow up Pap test done every six months.
If a biopsy was taken, a follow up appointment will be made to discuss the results, next steps, and if further intervention is warranted.
What can you do?
Although the procedure and fear of an abnormal Pap test can be anxiety provoking, be proud that you are taking proactive care of your reproductive health. Understanding your risks makes you more prepared to prevent more severe outcomes later in life.
Instead of watching and waiting between follow up Pap tests, why not take actionable steps to naturally support your immune system in clearing off the virus?
Adopting a healthly lifestyle, diet, implementing stress management techniques and supplementing with products like Papillex, that replenish the nutrients that have been found to be low in people with persistent HPV infections, can effectively help your immune system respond naturally to HPV and leave you in a better state of overall wellness.