Borderline changes and HPV+, referral for colposcopy. Scared :(

Hello - I'm a newbie and I have just been exploring the site and forum a bit.

I feel I am being a bit rude in just starting a new thread without ever having contributed, but I am very new to all this! I do apologise if it is poor forum etiquette!

iI had my first smear at the age of 26 which came back normal, no abnormalitys detected. I have just had my second aged 30 and it has come back as showing borderline changes with evidence of high-risk HPV infection. I know it's not the end of the world, and actually quite common, but I still feel quite unhappy. It's the HPV more than anything, as I know that is much riskier than just having borderline/mild changes. It's hard not to feel anxious.

My main anxiety is actually about the colposcopy itself because I am so squeamish and so anxious when it comes to medical things. EVen going into a hospital to accompany someone else has me feeling faint and sick. My smear was done by a lovely, thoughtful nurse but I was still very panicky even though on a rational level I had no problem with the smear happening: I was not afraid, as such. After it was done I had to lie back down because I was close to fainting or vomiting which in themselves make me very scared.

I only got my referral letter (not an actual appointment letter) last week and I think its sensible for me to go to a GP to discuss my worries. I am just highly unsure about whether I can actually get through a colposcopy without being sedated or something. The speculum feels awful to me but I thnk I could cope with the examination. But I realise there's a high likelihood of biopsies, and then a fairly high chance of LLETZ. I'm frightened of needles and blood and just about everything so I really don't see how I'm going to get through it! Having said that I am very grateful for the NHS doing this for me. I know I'm being a total wimp compared to most people but I was wondering if anyone had experience of being highly squeamish/anxious/sedated?!


Thank you so much for reading. I know its a very jumbled post but my mind is not at it's clearest right now...


 P.S. I have never had any medical or dental procedures before (as you might have guessed!)


Hi Pineapple,

I hope you're doing ok! I feel the same about medical and dental procedures (I have no idea why, I've never had a bad experience, I think it's something about the unknown!) and always feel a bit funny after my smear tests! For my first one I had to lie down for about 20 minutes with the nurse becuase i couldn't sit up without feeling like I was either going to pass out or be sick. 

I was petrified when I went for my colposcopy and I hadn't been able to talk to a nurse or anyone about it beforehand. But... it wasn't *that* bad (she says, with hindsight!) Although I was terrified, the two nurses who saw me were really lovely and did everything they could to put me at ease, I had my mum with me which helped (no awkward sexual past questions were asked!) and even took my mind off my treatment (I had CIN2 and LLETZ on the day) becuase she looked worse than I felt so I was trying to make her feel ok! 

I'd recommend ringing the colposcopy clinic and seeing if they can get a nurse to speak with you. If you can, get an appointment with your nurse/GP as well, but they might not know a lot about the procedure whereas the colposcopy team will be able to put your mind at rest a bit more :)

If it helps (and I know everyones different but...) I found colposcopy much more comfortable than a smear - I was in a relatively comfy chair with my legs resting on some leg rest things (rather than squished up on the bed with one knee knocking the wall in the nurses room!) I had a gown over my legs so I didnt feel exposed, and these people insert speculums into ladies all day every day - they know what they're doing and I found it much more...comfortable?! They took their time with me, didn't do anything until I was ready (I spent about a minute trying to relax with the speculum in!) and the colposcopy part (rather than treatment) was over relatively quickly, about 10 minutes or so (I know this doesnt sound quick, but it doesnt feel as long as it seems) the solution they put on stings/makes you feel cold but it didn't hurt as such, the whole thing was more just a weird feeling (like when you get your ears pierced and you have to twist your studs, after a few weeks it doesnt hurt, it just feels...odd...) I can't advise on biposies, but when I was having the anaesthetic for my treatment I decided that rather than feel that pain and freak out I'd dig my fingernails into my hands instead - which worked a charm lol.

Also, mention to the people who see you how you feel and that you're anxious and scared etc - they'll totally understand and will be more likely to talk you through everything (if that will help you!) or do whatever you need to make you feel more comfortable. Also, definitely take someone with you if you can (if not I had two nurses there and one of them was basically there to pass things to the colposcopy nurse, and make sure I was ok (/didnt freak out).

I have gone on for far too long! But I couldn't read and not reply (and when I reply...apparently I REPLY lol) x x x

Hi I think Becky has covered everything brilliantly, I have had countless colposcopys and treatment and the waiting is always the worst part. Have you ever considered Hypnotherapy to give you some strategies to cope I think it may be really useful for you,  I Hope everything goes very smoothly for you.  X 

Thank you so much, you two. It just makes me feel better to have someone to talk to, if you see what I mean, and also your experiences are both really encouraging. I do think hypnotherapy may be quite useful for me! I can also certainly imagine that having leg-rests and expert speculum-inserters is likely to make it a more comfortable experience! I have had my referral through now (i.e. the actual appointment date) so I'll see my GP tomorrow if I can, to see if I can manage my anxiety a bit better!

Unfortunately I have been really tearful about all this without even really knowing why, and it's causing quite a lot of friction in my relationship - my boyfriend says I'm farr to sensitive and that things he is saying to try to help seem to be upsetting me further. I have asked him just to listen to me, but he's getting very frustrated. I think it is quite normal to feel upset/tearful despite this being quite a normal referral, though?

Thanks ever so much, again :) xxx



Love, it is totally normal to be upset/scared/worried! Your boyfriend probably doesn't realise... I was going to say the impact it's having on you but I'm not sure that's what I mean. My boyfriend was alright about it, to start with, he calmed me down when I was hysterical after getting a call from the hospital, but then (when it was all I could think about and I was so worried I felt sick and couldn't eat) he lost patience with me and was like 'you're going to make yourself ill, you don't have cancer, everything will be fine' and I know he meant well, but I felt he was being really dismissive and didnt understand, and it didn't really help when I was on the spiral of doom. Have you got a friend or family member who you can just sit and pour it all out to who will just listen and make you tea and hug you? x x x

Thank you, Becky! I do also think it's normal and it's not me being especially irrational or melodramatic, as my boyfriend appears to think; I do have anxiety issues so sometimes I think what I say gets discredited by him. I was telling him things the other day that were actual fact, and he was arguing with me - it all got a bit upsetting with me crying in public. He thought I was trying to get out of a holiday we were going on with his parents two days after the procedure by saying you can't travel after LLETZ, but that is what the leaflet advises, and my GP backed me up on it. He also said I was jumping to conclusions when I said that no matter what, the experience was going to be intrusive. He said I didn't know that yet - well, to me, the speculum and stirrups and inspection are going to feel intrusive, although not necessarily terrible. Sorry, that was a bit of a vent, but he is being nicer now; his parents are fine with me not going on this holiday, as they know I am so nervous and should not have to reschedule my appointment and/or LLETZ if I do need it. Some of the things he said were very cruel, especially because he has health anxiety himself and I have supported him through a cancer scare! I was feeling a bit of disbelief! Luckily, I have spoken to lovely friends who do understand. I've not told my mum yet, which is perhaps wrong of me. She lives some way away and I know she'd worry, and I'm hoping I will be all fixed soon.

I must admit I am still dreading this colposcopy and I am really hoping it'll turn out that there's no need for LLETZ. My GP was extremely kind and talked me through anxiety, the routine nature of this appointment, that he had seen one being done, and the mechanism behind feeling faint/sick through anxiety. He also prescribed me Diazepam, and I'm hoping I just won't really care what's going on, basically...!

Wow, this was a long post. I really appreciate the support I have been given here. I will probably be back to fret a little more, but I am hoping in the medium-term I will be here to provide another reassuring voice to those awaiting their colposcopies - thank you so much :) xxx

That's exactly what Jo's is about :) being able to have a rant or be scared and seek comfort and reassurance from people who have experienced the same thing :) 

I'm glad things are a bit better between you both :) also, your GP sounds like an absolute star! It's surprising what you can cope with when you have to - I've felt faint and anxious at every smear test, but at my colopscopy I had this odd mind over matter/denial/distancing myself experience (which is very unlike me!). You could always take an ipod or a magazine or something to read while they're doing the procedure (to take your mind off it)? 

Make sure you let us know how you get on :) x x x 

Well, it's a wonderful place to be able to rant and so on :) Thank you again for your support!

I had the colposcopy yesterday and it was not a bad experience by any means. I did take some Diazepam; I didn't feel drugged or strange, but it certainly seemed to take the edge off my anxiety. The colposcopist instantly reassured me about cervical changes not being cancer, by drawing a little diagram of cell changes and the grades of CIN. I asked if he was likely to do LLETZ on the same day; he said it was unlikely, because my smear had shown borderline changes, and he did not want to over-treat.

The specially-designed chair does make things more comfortable than with a smear test! I couldn't see anything, which was just the way I wanted it, because I am squeamish. The health-conscious and curious/nosy part of me would have liked to see my cervix on-screen, as I was offered, but I declined! My boyfriend was a star, and was in there holding my hand, and there was a nurse the other side of the top of the chair also keeping me calm.

The colposcopist saw what he thought were likely to be CIN1 changes and he took two biopsies. He asked me to cough when he did them, and I didn't feel it. He then put sime silver on the biopsy sites to stop bleeding, which was also not painful, although I could sort of feel mild period-like pain starting up. I should have the results in four weeks. I am hoping not to need LLETZ, but I suppose it is not the end of the world if I do!

I did feel pretty faint after the procedure; I only really noticed it when I tried to get up, so the nurse reclined the chair again and I stayed there for a bit. Then I was able to go and sit on a reclining chair in a recovery room and the faintness subsided. I was offered as long as I needed there, along with tea and a biscuit. Everyone was very lovely. I think I am prone to feeling faint - I always have been a bit that way inclined. One nurse did mention that some women do feel a bit woozy when their cervix is touched as a physiological reaction, but it's hard to know whether it's that or squeamishness or both, in my case :)

One thing that has upset me a little is that I am exposed to cigarette smoke a lot because I live with my boyfriend's parents and they are heavy smokers. I did mention that to the colposcopist and he said that passive smoking is actually WORSE for cervical changes then active smoking! I'm hoping we'll be able to move out soon, but I am feeling a bit peeved. The colposcopist certainly wasn't trying to panic me about it, but I do try to look after my health to an extent, and it's upsetting that my living situation could potentially make my dysplasia worse, or my HPV more persistent.

Oops, sorry - massive essay! I mainly just wanted to come back here to say that even a squeamish worrier like myself was perfectly okay during the colposcopy, and the bopsies were not painful. Hopefully it will set people's minds at rest if they're in a similar situation - and if they're able to wade through the waffle ;) xxx

1 Like