Jax, Massachusetts, USA:: My gynecologist did a colposcopy and
biopsies in her office under local anesthetic. It was absolutely painless.
As I understand it, she removed tissue from my cervix to try and get
a better sample of cells than had been provided by the Pap test. My
colposcopy came back normal. My gyn then recommended a cone biopsy which
in the end determined carcinoma-in-situ.
Karen, Alberta, Canada: I've lost count now of the number of
colposcopies I have had, but with a history of gynecological problems
going back more than thirteen years, it's quite a few! A colposcopy
doesn't have to be more uncomfortable than a regular pelvic examination
if you make an effort to stay relaxed. Yes, I know... easier said than
done! If I feel myself getting tense or uncomfortable, I will often
concentrate on my breathing - using the exhalation through pursed lips
I learned for childbirth. It didn't help much then, but it works here!
I can be somewhat blasé about them now, but I was pretty nervous
first time I had a colposcopy, not knowing what to expect. It's much
like a regular pelvic examination. After undressing from the waist
down, I laid on the doctor's exam table and "assumed the position" -
bum down to the end of the table with my feet up in stirrups. The
doctor inserted and opened the speculum and then swabbed my cervix
with an ascetic acid (vinegar) solution to make the abnormal areas
easier to see. (They show up as white or pale areas because of how
the abnormal cells react to the vinegar solution.) The doctor looks
through the colposcope (a viewing instrument that magnifies the cells
for better evaluation), which is outside the vaginal opening.
The doctor may take "punch" biopsies of the abnormal area(s):
instrument is inserted and takes a small sample of cells. This isn't
as bad as it sounds - you may feel a small pinch or a bit of
cramping. Also, there may be some spotting later - usually they will
give you a sanitary pad or panti-liner, just in case.
Having a colposcopy is usually pretty fast - the whole thing takes
only about fifteen to thirty minutes. Most of the time, I have been
in the waiting room longer than on the exam table, and to tell you
the truth, I always find the time in the waiting room more nerve-
wracking than the exam itself. But, as I said before, keeping the
pelvic muscles relaxed is, I think, the key to a comfortable
examination - for any pelvic exam.