If you have had an abnormal result from your cervical screening test (your smear test):
Cervical screening is designed to pick up minor changes in the cervix (neck of the womb) before any problems develop. Almost certainly that is what the test has done for you. These changes act as an early warning sign that, over time (usually a number of years) cervical cancer may develop.
An abnormal result is not unusual. About one in ten women have test results that show some abnormality. It is important to remember that it is extremely rare for these abnormalities to be cancer.
Sometimes you may be asked to attend colposcopy when your smear has been normal. This leaflet tells you what to expect.
What is Colposcopy?
Colposcopy is a simple examination that allows the doctor to see the type and area of the abnormality on your cervix. When you are lying comfortably the doctor will gently insert a speculum into your vagina, like when you had your smear taken.
The doctor will use an instrument called a colposcope which is a type of magnifying glass. The colposcope allows the doctor to look more closely at your cervix. It does not go inside your body.
The doctor may dab 2 different liquids onto your cervix to help identify and highlight any areas of abnormal cells. If any abnormal area is identified, a small sample of tissue – a biopsy – will be taken from the surface of the cervix. A biopsy is about the size of a pinhead.
For most women this is a painless examination, but some may find it a bit uncomfortable.
The actual examination takes only about 15 minutes, but you should allow at least one hour for the whole visit.
Colposcopy can be done safely during pregnancy and will not affect delivery of your baby, nor will it affect your ability to become pregnant in the future. However, if treatment is needed, it is usually postponed until after the delivery of your baby.
After Your Examination
After you have dressed, the doctor may be able to tell you what is wrong and what treatment, if any, is needed. But often, especially if you have had a biopsy, you will not be given a definite diagnosis immediately after the examination. It will take six to eight weeks for you to get the results of the biopsy. After the examination you should feel well enough to continue with your usual routine.
Appointments: 0141 211 8146 (9-4pm)
Nurse Helpline: call 0141 211 8130 and ask to speak to a nurse (9am-4.30pm)
NHS 24: 111
The Jo’s Trust Helpline: 0808 802 800