During your well-woman exam each year, your provider checks to make sure you’re up-to-date with your cervical cancer screening. Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the cells of your cervix, which is the lower end of your uterus near your vagina.
Years ago, cervical cancer was a top cause of cancer deaths in women. Today, thanks to cervical cancer screening, fewer than 4,300 women in the US will die from cervical cancer this year, according to the American Cancer Society.
At Associates in Women’s Health in Cincinnati, our team of care providers perform several types of cervical cancer screening. One is the colposcopy. Here, we explain why you might need a colposcopy and what to expect during your procedure.
During some of your well-woman exams, your provider performs a test known as a Pap smear. A Pap smear checks for the presence of abnormal cells in your cervix. Without treatment, some types of abnormal cells could go on to become cervical cancer.
If your Pap smear test results show the presence of abnormal cells, your provider will probably recommend a colposcopy. This is an in-office test that allows your provider to learn more about the cells in your cervix.
During a colposcopy, your provider uses a device known as a colposcope to examine your cervical cells. A colposcope contains a light and a magnifier. Using a colposcope, your provider can give your cervix a thorough visual inspection.
Here’s what to expect during a colposcopy: While you lie on your back, your provider opens your vagina with a device called a speculum. Your provider uses a cotton swab to apply a solution to your cervix that makes cervical abnormalities more visible. The solution may sting slightly. Then your provider uses the colposcope to examine your cervix.
While evaluating your cervix, your provider may take small tissue samples (biopsies) to send to the laboratory for further inspection.
After your procedure, you can usually return to your normal activities. You may have some spotting for a day or two and may need to wear a pad. Your provider may recommend that you avoid having sex or using tampons for a short time after the test.
Your provider will contact you when your test results are available.
In addition to checking for abnormal cells in your cervix, colposcopy is also used to evaluate some other gynecological concerns, including pain, abnormal bleeding, genital warts that grow on the cervix, inflammation, and non-cancerous cervical polyps.
You can depend on the care providers at Associates in Women’s Health to make sure you have all of the recommended health screenings and evaluations for cervical cancer. To schedule an appointment with one of our providers, call our office at 513-794-1500, or request an appointment today.