Though the recommendations have changed over the years, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests women get pelvic exams when indicated by medical history or symptoms since 2018. These exams are designed to check for any signs of illness in your uterus, cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, and rectum. If your exam comes back normal, current guidelines indicate you come back every three years after three consecutive normal tests. If the results are abnormal, a colposcopy may be necessary to determine if there is any reason for concern.
If your pelvic exam results have come back with abnormal results and you live in the Arlington, Texas area, Dr. Joan Bergstrom and her team of doctors at Women’s Health Services can help. We offer colposcopies as well as a variety of other services to diagnose and treat your needs.
What is a colposcopy?
This is a procedure that examines your vagina, vulva, and cervix for evidence of disease or illness if you have abnormal results from a pelvic exam. This is done using a colposcope, a magnifying device that shines a light into your vagina, allowing closer examination than can be done with the naked eye. If the procedure finds abnormal cells a sample of tissue (biopsy) is obtained to examine further.
What is it used to detect?
This procedure is used to check for the following conditions:
This is one of the most common types of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Symptoms include small, flesh-colored swellings in your genitals, a cauliflower-like shape due to several warts grouped together, itching and discomfort, and bleeding during intercourse.
Inflammation of the cervix can be caused by STIs, allergic reactions to contraceptive spermicide or latex, or bacterial overgrowth. If you have cervicitis you may experience large amounts of unusual vaginal discharge, painful urination, bleeding between periods, pain during sex, and bleeding after sex.
This refers to cells in the cervix, vagina, or vulva that may change into cancer cells. These separate conditions are also known as cervical dysplasia, vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia (VAIN), and vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN) respectively. If you have any of these conditions, none of them mean you will get cancer, merely that the risk is there due to the presence of abnormal cells.
What can you expect from the procedure?
This procedure starts in a similar fashion to a pap smear or pelvic exam. You lie on your back on a table with stirrups. The colposcope is positioned close to your pelvis and a speculum is placed in your vagina. A vinegar solution is swabbed on your cervix and vagina to clear away mucus and make abnormal cells easier to see.
Photographs are taken and if necessary, a biopsy if there are any unusual findings. After a colposcopy is done you may experience a dark discharge for a few days, as well as mild soreness and cramping.
It’s completely normal to have some anxieties before getting a colposcopy, so to help relieve any stress before the procedure, asking questions and finding ways to relax can help make your experience go smoothly. If you’re ready for your colposcopy or you have any concerns, make an appointment with Dr. Bergstrom and Women’s Health Services today.