Firstly, you have come to the right place! Lots of lovely ladies on here who’ve all been through the same thing! I’ve felt that there aren’t many people in my life who I can talk to about this, so this site has been wonderful.
Yes, it is a scary time. Since I first received my letter inviting me for a colposcopy a year and a half ago, this thing has caused me a lot of anxiety and fear. I had CIN2 removed by LLETZ but as I’m apparently still HPV positive, I’m still on six month checks. I’m aware I’m one of the lucky ones, but I still wish that I was back to ‘normal’ – whatever that is!
There are quite a few ladies on here who suffer from severe anxiety, who should be able to give you some good advice on coping.
What I would say is please don’t worry about the colposcopy – or try not to anyway. I have always found the colp to be better than the smear. Firstly, you are made more comfortable – at my GP’s surgery, it all feels a bit cramped! Secondly, I find the colp staff to be more professional and better at reassuring you and putting you at ease. They’re less likely to bludgeon about trying to find your cervix - ‘your cervix is being shy’ as the nurse commented to me at my smear yesterday – umm yeah, I don’t blame it, it’s been seen by that many people!
You’re put in a really comfy chair and there’s a nurse there to reassure you while it’s all going on. In my experience, you have a little chat with the colposcopist first, so you get the chance to explain any fears or questions you have.
As for bleeding at the smear; well, for the first time ever, at my last check-up smear last month, I bled. The nurse didn’t want to submit a sample as it would come back spoiled, so she asked me to come back. Went back yesterday – obviously terrified – and although I bled a bit again, she managed to take a sample which (fingers crossed) should do. Strangely, I’m a bit calmer about as I’ve been reassured that bleeding at your smear is very common. So I hope that helps a bit to know that. Quite a few women on here talk about experiencing pain/bleeding at their smear and yet they don’t have cancer.
As for the anxiety – it sounds like you are facing a real struggle there and my heart goes out to you. I am naturally anxious, and all this has made me query every lump or bump that appears. I’m better now than I was – much better – at one point I was verging on anxiety attacks and lost weight (bonus, except I was convinced it was because I had cancer!). But the worst time was definitely between my first smear and colp. I live in Scotland and they give you no info beyond you’ve had an abnormal smear, so I didn’t have a clue what I was facing. Once I had my colp then LLETZ, I felt I could deal with it all. It’s the fear of the worst case scenario that is so crippling. Honestly, the actual procedure was fine for me. No pain, over super quickly – I’ve had far worse times at the dentist. You’ll read stories from some amazing ladies on here who’ve been diagnosed with cancer, who express relief at having their operation booked – because they know what is going to happen and how they can fight it.
Of course, everyone’s experience is different. But I just wanted to try and give you some reassurance based on my experiences. For me, I’m trying my hardest not to let this dominate my life. If my results come back and I’m still HPV positive, or there are further changes, I need to be able to deal with that and not let it send me into a tailspin again. Let’s face it, until the HPV buggers off I’m going to have to be back on that nurse’s couch every six months, and I just refuse to live my life in six month blocks! Words that are easier said than done I know.
Anyway, good luck and keep posting here – it is so helpful.