Newbie: Colposcopy after 3 screening tests showing borderline changes


Hi all,

First of all, I'm so pleased I found this forum. I've been reading and, although I am still worried, I find it quite supportive.

My nightmare started nearly two years ago when I discovered I had small genital warts, obvious sign I got infected by HPV. I got treated for it and they never appeared ever again. At the same time I got an abnormal result on my screening test saying borderline changes. I shocked and got really anxious about it. My GP didn't help when I ask for HPV test (I read the NHS was introducing this test in some areas). So I went through hell waiting for my next screening test, which for my surprise came back normal, although I was due to follow up with screening tests every 6 months. The nightmare came back when the next one was again showing borderline. At the same time I had been feeling quite dry and had different treatments for thrush. Finally I am booked in for a colposcopy next month after my second abnormal screening test consecutive. It's kind of a relief I'm finally going to know what it's going on down there, but to be honest I'm panicking again. When I rang to book the colposcopy I ask if they will test for HPV and the nurse said that because of the borderline results I won't get this test. I'm so confused, I thought that due to my past (genital warts, clear evidence of HPV infection) I'd get it tested. Anyway I'll ask again when I go for the colposcopy.

After reading quite a lot of your posts here, I try to put myself together and think I only have borderline and it didn't go worse during these nearly two years, but I know also that the results of a screening test are not accurate...

I'm going for colposcopy next April 17th. I can't concentrate since yesterday when I receive the letter from the Hospital. It's kind of harder when all your family and friends are in another country :( Fortunately my boyfriend is being really supportive and I know he'll be there with me. I only want the day to come fast, go over it, know what I have and stop overthinking with the “what ifs”.

I'll let you know how everything is going.

Has anyone else gone through a similar situation? Thanks to all of you, brave girls.

Sept 11 - borderline changes Mar 12 - normal Sept 12 - borderline changes Mar 13 - borderline changes Awaiting for colposcopy on April 13



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Hi Mary, 

I'm sorry you're feeling so worried and confused - it can be such a scary thing, so I hope that I can help to reassure you a bit. 

First of all, it's important to understand that there are lots of different strains of HPV. The HPV that causes genital warts is HPV 6 & 11. This does NOT cause cancer. It is different from the HPV that causes cervical abnormalities and cervical cancer, which is HPV 16 & 18. It is possible, although unusual, to have more than one strain. As you say, we know that you've had either 6 or 11 because you've had genital warts. Therefore there is no need to test you for that strain of HPV. If you have cervical abnormalities (where the cells change from 'normal' to 'abnormal' - commonly referred to as CIN or CGIN) then we know that you have also got HPV 16 or 18, because you could not have the cell changes otherwise, so again, there is no benefit in testing you for HPV, because if you've got abnormal cells, you must have this strain of HPV. However, having HPV is not something to worry about in itself - everyone who is sexually active gets it at some point - the issue is those of us who, for whatever reason, are unable to clear it naturally. Even in people who can clear it naturally, it usually takes about two years for the immune system to do that, so the fact that you have HPV now does not necessarily mean that it won't spontaneously clear up, it just means it hasn't done yet. It doesn't definitely mean that you are someone like me who was unable to clear it naturally. A lot more would need to happen in your body for us to be able to reach that conclusion, and at the moment, there is no reason to think that those things will happen. :-) 

I agree that it's a good thing you're going to have a colposcopy because they will be able to accurately see the nature and the extent of the abnormality in your cervix. You're right that smear tests don't always pick up everything but, going on the results that you've had, the overwhelming likelihood is that you've got mild abnormalities (CIN 1) and that they will either treat that there and then or if it's a very tiny area, leave it six months to see if it spreads (which is a completely safe thing to do because it's such an early stage of abnormality).

Please be reassured that these kinds of things are very easily treated and once they have been, do not return in the vast majority. 

I hope this helps. Keep us updated!

Annabel. x

Hi Annabel,

Thanks for replying. It really helps to know that there are positive experiences and happy endings (I read your sign :) )

Since this started I have been reading a lot about HPV and I know you're right on what you say, but I just think that it may help for the treatment if you know which HPV you have (high-risk or not) to figure out what it could happen in short term. 6 months could be too long if it's an agresive case I guess and knowing that the smear is not 100% reliable... It makes it even more scary. This is taking too long and it doesn't help with the worrying thing... I just want to feel normal and enjoy life again! Let's keep positive and thanks again for your answer :)

Mary xxxx is scary waiting, isn't it? I was going to explain about HPV but Annabels explanation was excellent & far more detailed than what mine might be. I thought perhaps my own experience might be of help though. 14 years ago I had an abnormal smear, followed by colpo, punch biopsy & when I went for check-up it had all cleared up by itself. All following smears normal until last Autumn. My smear showed borderline changes with evidence of HPV infection. I'd never heard of this before but my GP explained it as Annabel did & he said that they've only just started testing for hpv & that had the test been available 14yrs ago it would probably have shown hpv. He too explained that your own body can fight it away but it can reoccur. Anyway I had a colpo & it showed cin3 & cgin3 but they didn't quite get it all in 1 go so i returned early dec. I see my consultant in 2wks time to discuss the results. So for me, having hpv, (& i've never had warts so assume my hpv is the cancer causing one) it's not so serious. I mean why would they leave it from sept 2012 (1st colpo) - April 2013 to give me defiinite results. Yes, I've worried but then realised all I was doing was using all my energies on just second guessing everything. I've decided to just try & keep busy & will deal with it at the appt. Yes I've some research so that if the consultant suggests the next step it's not such a big shock but I've not gone into detail because everything could be ok. Hopefully you can have your mind set to rest shortly & it's good they are checking you. Good luck Mary.

Hi qsq,
you're absolutely right. i'm so sorry they've had you waiting for sooooo long!!! Hopefully you'll get good news in two weeks, as I have read in this site many times: not news is good news, and if they didn't rush... ;) Being worried is not healthy and there is nothing you can really do, so... I'm trying and keeping myself busy, some days I'm good, some days I can't do anything but come here and read... but I've learnt so much!
Anyway, I booked an appointment with my GP, I have many questions... and I need some advise about contraception. I'm on the pill (Cilest) and I'm considering to stop, at least for a while and come back to condoms. I don't know if it may help with the HPV infection, so our bodies could fight it and we're not passing it to each other all the time.
Keep us updated. Thanks and good luck to you too! xxxx

Sept 11 - 1st smear - borderline

March 12 - 2nd smear - normal

Sept 12 - 3rd smear - borderline

March 13 - 4th smear - borderline

April 13 - 1st colpos - (awating)