One of the important steps in getting prepared for a colposcopy is to know about the possible side effects that it may trigger. Here is an article telling you about the same.
Colposcopy is required for women whose Pap smear results happen to be abnormal. Pap smear only serves as a screening method for potential problems and cannot be used to diagnose them. So, in order to determine the factors behind the abnormal Pap smear results, the doctor requires to have a closer observation of the cervix. For this, the medical examination that is put to practice is what is known as colposcopy.
Possible Side Effects of Colposcopy
Colposcopy in general, lacks any kind of major complications and is considered a safe medical examination. However, some patients might experience some side effects post the procedure. These side effects are temporary.
» If a patient undergoes a biopsy or treatment under local anesthesia, then it is possible that she might experience cramps once the anesthesia starts losing its effects. These cramps mimic those of a monthly period.
» Small amount of vaginal discharge and/or bleeding could also occur as a side effect.
» Studies show that not all but a few women may experience heavy bleeding post the examination. Sometimes the bleeding may get heavier than a heavy bleeding in a monthly period.
» Infection of the site of the biopsy is a rare side effect of colposcopy. This may be accompanied by a high fever, foul-smelling vaginal discharge and heavy bleeding.
Most of these side effects happen to get resolved after about 2 or 6 weeks. Patients are advised to carry sanitary towel with them on the day of their colposcopy, in order to avoid any undesirable situation.
What is Colposcopy Ordered for?
Patients whose Pap smear results exhibit problems like cervical dysplasia or cervical cancer, exhibit symptoms of Human Papillomavirus (HPV), or Atypical Squamous Cells of Undetermined Significance (ASCUS), are considered as the candidates for a colposcopy.
The procedure also helps in detecting infections caused by bacteria, fungi or protozoa, and problems such as genital warts, cervix inflammation, vaginal cancer or cancer of the vulva. This medical test may also be required on observations of irregularities during a routine gynecological appointment.
The time that a patient might have to spend in a colposcopy does not go beyond 15 minutes. The procedure is painless and is carried out in the office of a gynecologist. Like in the case of a Pap smear test, you will be positioned on an examination table. The doctor, will then gently wipe a solution of acetic acid (dilute vinegar) onto your cervix and observe through the colposcope. The acetic acid may cause a burning or tingling sensation. It turns abnormal cells white, if there are any.
In case, there aren’t any white cells, then there is nothing to worry about. However, if there are any abnormalities, then the doctor may apply iodine solution to the cervix. This is to get a closer look at the abnormal cells, as the normal cells will be stained brown due to the iodine. Thereafter, a small piece of the cervix may be removed to be sent to a laboratory for a biopsy.
How to Prepare for the Procedure
• Patients are advised to abstain from sexual intercourse 24 hours before undergoing a colposcopy.
• Application of vaginal medicines, tampons, or douches must also be avoided.
• The doctor may advise the patient to take a pain killer half an hour before the procedure. This is to avoid any cramping pain.
• Colposcopy provides better results during absence of period. Bleeding may interfere with the observation of the cervix. Generally, patients are told to schedule the examination about 8 – 12 days after the start of their last period.
On the onset of such colposcopy side effects, patients may be advised to refrain from sexual activity, avoid the use of tampon, and follow procedures to administer medicines vaginally for about a week.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.