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""After an abnormal pap, how soon should a colposcopy take place?""

ZocdocAnswers"After an abnormal pap, how soon should a colposcopy take place?"


My OBGYN just contacted me to tell me the results of my pap smear were abnormal. He called me in to have a colposcopy. What will the colposcopy involve, and can I wait a while to get it? I'm about to travel, and don't want to rearrange my trip. Do I have to get one urgently, or can it wait?


Questions about pap smears and colposcopy are best answered by an OB/GYN. A colposcopy is a procedure to more closely evaluate the cervix in a woman who has had an abnormal pap smear. The pap test is designed to screen for early changes associated with HPV infection in the cells of the cervix. HPV is a virus that can lead to cervical cancer if it goes undetected over a period of many years. Changes in the cervix usually happen very slowly which is pap screening can be done on an annual basis. The colposcopy itself is similar to a pelvic exam. A speculum will be used to visualize the cervix, and the colposcope will be used by the physician to have an enlarged view of the cervix to look for any bleeding or other abnormal findings. A special solution may be applied to the cervix with a cotton swab because this can make cells affected by the HPV virus turn white. Finally, several small biopsies of the cervix may also be performed. In general, colposcopy after an abnormal pap is an important part of women's health maintenance. Deciding how long to wait before scheduling the colposcopy is an issue best addressed by your treating gynecologist. Colposcopy is not a follow-up test that typically needs to be done the moment an abnormal pap is identified, but it is important not to let this go either. Your doctor can give you the best advice regarding the details of your particular case.

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