First colposcopy, anxious

Hi all, first time poster.

I was recently diagnosed with high-risk HPV and early cell changes at my first cervical screening.

I’ve been doing as much reading as I can to try and cope with the anxiety. While I’ve read about the procedure of colposcopy, I don’t know what to expect emotionally from the procedure, or what accomodations I can ask for.

I have both sexual trauma and medical trauma, so I’m extremely apprehensive of intimate examinations and invasive treatment.

I’m basically asking if anyone is happy sharing their personal experiences with colposcopy and follow-up.

I also don’t know if I can expect them to take a biopsy or sample, and whether pain relief for this is provided? In the event I have something to worry about, I need to be mindful of not accumulating further medical trauma and this barring me from receiving treatment.

Sorry if this post is messy, I’m so stressed and anxious I’m struggling to formulate my thoughts and put them together cohesively.

Hi! I had my first colposcopy this month, and I actually had a really positive experience. I know this will vary person to person but hopefully my experience will help relieve a little bit of anxiety! When I went to my appointment, before we got started the gynaecologist wanted to address the fact I was visibly so anxious and try to put my mind at ease. Then had the colposcopy - part of the reason I was so anxious is I have found exams with speculums uncomfortable and due to my anatomy it sometimes takes a lot of adjustment to even get started, but it actually took no time at all for them to get into position to view my cervix, they apply a solution to your cervix which felt cold but there wasn’t much stinging, they took a biopsy (I think sometimes people don’t require this), which was nippy but not agony, they then stop the bleeding with a silver nitrate pen which did sting a lot, but it passes after a couple of seconds. I wasn’t provided any pain relief, they didn’t apply a local anaesthetic either. I would say take paracetamol or ibuprofen before hand. I found the pain manageable, and just had a couple of ibuprofen after as it felt similar to period pain afterwards.

They were very accommodating in how long it takes to be ready to stand and get dressed, and then explained the next steps. I think the wait for the biopsy result does depend on where you are geographically and waiting lists. I know that some people have said they got the LLETZ procedure done at the same appointment, but that was not the case for me.

I was really anxious about it going in to it, and had read a lot of horror stories before hand so was relieved when it went smoothly. I know this isn’t the case for everyone, but I hope you have a similar experience to mine.

I think the important thing to remember is they are there to help and look after you - you can ask them to stop and it can take as long as you need it to.

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I had my first colposcopy exam about a week ago. The team was absolutely amazing. Everything was explained beforehand and I was able to ask any questions.

As Miriam3 said, we all experience it differently, so I did not feel anything. The speculum was the most uncomfortable element in the whole procedure. I normally don’t find this uncomfortable either, so not sure what this was about.

They applied a solution, which turned the affected area dark purple and then they took some biopsies. I could follow everything on screen. Again I didn’t really feel a thing.

The nurse kept checking in with me, if I was doing ok. At the end they stopped the bleeding with this silver nitrate pen, didn’t feel anything. If I hadn’t watched the screen, I would not have know that anything was happening.

I wasn’t provided any pain relief, good suggestion about taking something before and maybe later afterwards.

The team checked again, if I was ok afterwards, I wasn’t rushed or anything. They told me what I should not do for 7 days e.g. have a bath, use tampons and gave me phone numbers to ring, should I have any problems or questions afterwards.

I was fortunately fine afterwards.

Now I have to wait for about 6 weeks for my results!

Fingers very crossed that your appointment is going to be similar.

Thank you for your comment, it was very helpful. I hope I have a similar experience to you. I’m particularly reassured by the return time of results!

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Hi, thank you so much for your reply, it’s very helpful.

I think I will talk to them about pain relief before my appointment or before the examination itself in the appointment, as I said I am extremely wary of accumulating more medical trauma. I hope they’re receptive to this!

I try to remind myself they’re there to help me, but I’ve experienced so much medical neglect and had largely negative experiences with intimate examinations, it’s hard not to expect the worst.

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You’ll probably do fine with the colposcopy, although it will have some quick painful moments, like stinging or a sharp little pinch. My first one was 30 years ago while I was young and healthy, and I actually went on to work afterwards. My second is coming up in a few weeks and honestly I don’t know how it will go given my current health. The first go round was a false alarm, I suppose, because the biopsy was clear, and everything was fine for 30 more years thankfully. I can totally relate to the prior traumas and in the last few years I have developed an aversion to invasive testing and even IVs, after the last two I had were botched and swelled my hand up like a balloon, not to mention taking numerous times to even find a vein they could work with. I don’t even tolerate the PAPs very well anymore so the thought of going through it now is causing me anxiety too - you’re definitely not alone in that.

Back then it was pretty close to a normal gynecological exam, with the exception of applying the vinegar smelling solution and taking a couple of pinches off the cervix. I worry more about what comes next if the biopsy shows anything.

Good luck with everything. You’ll get through it okay. If you need further procedures (and I hope you won’t) ask questions and be very firm if you need anesthesia or pain relief. This is something I’m having to learn for myself, especially now. I have to stop letting others try to dictate my medical care. I’m going to have a say this time.

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