Abnormal Pap Smear and Colposcopy
Pap smear – is an excellent screening tool for cervical cancer. It is recommended that women start screening at age 21, and if normal, screening is needed every 3 years for healthy women ages 21 to 65. After the age 30, an HPV (Human Papilloma Virus that can cause cervical cancer) test is also done. If you have certain risk factors, Dr. Fleming may recommend more-frequent Pap smears, regardless of your age. Risk factors include a history of cervical cancer or precancer cells, recent abnormal Pap smear, exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) before birth, HIV infection, a weakened immune system due to chemotherapy or chronic corticosteroid use or any other medications that affect the immune system.
You may be able to stop having pap smears if you are over age 65 and have been having regular and normal pap smears, or if had your cervix removed with a hysterectomy for benign (non-cancer) reasons and prior to your surgery had normal and regular pap smears. Please see Dr. Fleming to determine if you meet these criteria.
Colposcopy – An office procedure that is usually done to evaluate your cervix after an abnormal pap smear, and/or positive HPV test. It may also be done to evaluate abnormal vaginal bleeding, bleeding with intercourse, a cervical, vaginal or vulvar lesion seen on a routine exam. Dr. Fleming will use an instrument called a Colposcope, a high-powered microscope, to more closely evaluate your vulva, vagina, and/or cervix. If your Dr. Fleming finds an unusual area of cells during colposcopy, a sample of tissue (biopsy) will be obtained for laboratory testing.
The procedure is usually very well tolerated.
Preparing for your colposcopy:
-Do not schedule your colposcopy during your menstrual period
-Don’t have vaginal intercourse the day or two before your colposcopy
-Don’t use tampons the day or two before your colposcopy
-Don’t use vaginal medications for the two days before your colposcopy
-Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) approximately 30 minutes prior to your procedure
-Make sure you have had something to eat within 2 hours of your procedure
Risks: Colposcopy is a safe procedure that carries very few risks. Rare complications are associated with a biopsy and include:
Heavy bleeding, heavier than your typical period
Infection with symptoms of fever, chills, pelvic or abdominal pain
Call Dr. Fleming if you experience any of the above signs and symptoms after your colposcopy.
After the colposcopy:
If you had a biopsy sample during your colposcopy, there are no restrictions on your activity, but you may experience light bleeding for 1-2 days.
If you had a biopsy sample taken during your colposcopy, you may experience 1-2 days of vaginal or vulvar pain and light bleeding for a few days. A dark or watery vaginal discharge is also normal. Nothing should be placed vaginally for 1 week after your biopsy (or longer based on Dr. Fleming’s recommendations), including tampons, douching, and intercourse.
Results should be available 1-2 weeks after your biopsy. Please call the office at 617-326-3232 if you have not received your results within 2 weeks.
The results of your colposcopy will determine whether you’ll need any further testing and treatment and follow up recommendations will be given to you when you get your results.
Conveniently located at Playhouse Square at the corner of Forest Street and Washington Street in Wellesley, MA.