Scared ladies - please read this!

Hello all

If you're reading this, you're probably in much the same position that I was in a few weeks ago. I had my first ever abnormal smear result: borderline changes with high risk HPV detected. Total panic ensued, followed by a lot of frantic googling to try to find out what this actually means.

One of the biggest problems for me at this point was that I have a full on phobia of hospitals. I am not talking getting nervous or not liking them here. I have variously got hysterical in the car park and run out of A&E in tears, both of these occasions being when I was not even in any danger of having anything done to me. In fact I was trying to pick up friends or family members from the hospital!

I spent 2 weeks researching what the 'borderline changes' might mean and what treatment I might need to have if they found anything undesirable down there .... and for most of that time I felt sick to my stomach and ready to burst into tears at any minute.

The one piece of advice that made me realise I had to find a way to deal with it was a lady, I think on this forum somewhere, who said something along the lines of "you owe it to yourself, the people you love and the people who love you to go get checked, and make sure that nothing bad happens to you". Which makes sense, also told myself that if I was getting into this much of a state about the colposcopy, ignoring it is hardly an option because imagine what a mess I'd be if ignoring meant that I needed some kind of grusome treatment one day.

I was coping very badly indeed with the phobia and realised I had to do something, so went for a session of Cognitive Hypnotherapy. It was very, very interesting and whilst not something that would normally appeal to me, the logic behind what they do to deal with phobias just seemed to make sense.

Hypno session was on Monday and I had 'homework' to listen to each day. I felt like it was working (for example, I couldnt stand to be around pregnant women before in case she went into labour and the whole situation turned 'medical', but on the Tuesday there was a pregnant lady next to me in the coffee queue at work and my reaction was little more than "oh, there's a pregnant lady") but of course the proof of the pudding was colposcopy day.

So this morning I was in the hospital. If you're feeling really scared about this, please please try to relax and if you find you can't, get some help. The following is my experience:

- Fisrt a little background: I am 44 years old, still take oral contraceptives, never had kids. All normal smears up til now

- Never had a big problem with smear tests. Relax and it's over in 2 minutes

- My appointment in colposcopy started with meeting the very nice doctor, with the nurse in attendance, where she took some more background info and showed me what she had received in terms of the results from the screening program

- Then next door to get changed. I had the choice of putting on a gown but as I had worn a full skirt just opted for underwear removal

- Into the treatment room. Ours had more of a sort of chair, with padded bits that you can put your feet up on. The nurse can then recline it for you to get you into a comfy position. Easier said than done, I know, but the more you can relax the easier it is. Mine had the radio playing and the nurses chatted to me about mundane stuff which both made it a bit less 'medical'

- I had the impression that the speculum was possibly smaller than the one my doc uses for the smear, either that of the doctor was just a dab hand with it

- The colposcope itself it smaller and less obtrusive than I expected and not intimidating at all. To be honest, you can't really see much of what's going on at the business end anyway

- I didn't feel any stinging when solutions were applied to the cervix (the doc warned me that I might). It feels a bit odd, but mainly because it's not a part of you that anyone normally touches I think!

- She did see some changes, but couldn't really tell any more than the smear had already shown, so she took 3 biopsies. As many other forum users have said, you'll be asked to cough as she takes the biopsies, and honestly I didn't feel a thing. I was told to expect a little pinch, but didn't feel it.

- The doctor was very sympathetic and asked me several times whether I had any discomfort. Honestly, I promise you, there was no pain and no discomfort. The only thing that is uncomfortable is that it is not natural to be able to feel someone touching bits inside you, so it feels wierd. Not painful, not uncomfortable, just wierd!

- Last thing was something to stop any bleeding after the biopsies. Again feels a bit odd, but only because something is being touched to something that is not normally touched!

- Back home now and I feel fine, just a very slight twinge I guess like a small period pain from time to time.

So I've got a 4 week wait to see what comes back from the biopsies. If it's mild changes, we'll wait and see what it looks like next year.  If it's more towards moderate, I'll ne back for LLETZ treatment to take care of it once and for all.

One word of warning, the doc did say that if a woman is very anxious and it seems likely that they would spend the intervening year in a fit of worry, they will recommend immmediate treatment even for mild changes. You might want to bear this in mind if you want to avoid any unnecessary treatment!

Last but not least, if you have a phobia or are so anxious about the whole thing that it's taking over your life, please please get some help. It does work - my doctor this morning said that I would most likely be the calmest and least stressed out of all of her patients today. To go from having hysterics at the sight of a hospital to that in a week just goes to show that it can be done. Please don't suffer in silence.

In summary, colposcopy would not be my choice for a grand day out, but it really isnt that bad either.

Good luck to all of you ladies in the same position, and I really hope that this helps to reassure some of you a little.

Be safe and healthy x x x


Hello. How kind of you to share your experience. I am sure it will provide a lot of reassurance to those who are not used to the colposcopy process. I’m wishing you good luck with your results and well done for taking the bull by the horns and tackling your phobia head on! X

Thanks oldhand. When I was looking at the forum over the last couple of weeks, I was hoping to find some reassurance that it was not so bad as I might fear. As one lady commented, it's more likely that people will post when they feel like they've got something to report, and maybe folks don't bother so much if it's over with not much drama. For that reason alone, I thought folks might appreciate an honest and detailed description of what goes on in there.

If it helps just a few of my fellow scaredy-cats out there to feel a bit less alarmed, it was worth the time taken to write.

8hrs after my appointment now and I feel really fine btw :-) I am not even too stressed about the results, probably another effect of the hypnotherapy. If I do need treatment, I will have a second hypnotherapy session first and now feel confident that I will be able to handle it ok if it comes to that. I don't really know how/why it works as well as it does, but it has freed me from a lifetime of medical-based terror so for me that makes it the best £65 I ever spent!

Thank you so much for this! I've recently had my first ever smear at 25 back with borderline changes and hpv. I've really been freaking myself out and googling everything. I have my colcoscopy in a couple of weeks so your advice has really helped. 

Thank you for sharing your story, I had my first colposcopy yesterday after my first smear came back with borderline changes! I was absolutely territerrified and spent the last month worried and a nervous wreck. It was on my mind constantly and nothing could reassure me, my friends were fabulous though!! I was terrified when I went for my appointment yesterday but the doctor and nurses were amazing and totally put me at ease, they were lovely and it was quite uncomfortable but I wasn't in agony like some stories I've read. All in all ladies please don't be too scared it's not as bad as it seems and at the end of the day it could be alot worse!

Thank you moggsy for sharing this with us here. I have never heard of Cognitive Hypnotherapy before but it sounds brilliant. I am rather unusual in that I really like hospitals, but I know that I am in the minority and that most people dislike them and many, like you, have a fear and loathing, so it's great to know that there is a switch that can be flicked.

Good luck with the rest of your journey - hoping it's just a short one.

Be lucky


I think I still can't quite believe that one session of hypnotherapy made that much difference, but I am very pleased that it did! Can't really explain how it works so well, but it seems to be a winner in my case.

2 days later and nothing terrible to report. Try not to worry too much LC90, it's a bit gross in the same way that a smear is a bit gross, but it really isn't that bad. It is also oover quite quickly, I reckon about 10-15 minutes for me, including 3 biopsies. I think you'll find it recedes into the past quite quickly!

Gabby, hope yours comes back OK and good luck to everyone out there. Let's remind ourselves, we're the lucky ones in this country to benefit from such a thorough screening process, we could have it a lot worse if we weren't getting this level of attention.

And Tivoli, liking hospitals?? Really??? Wow, I have never heard that one before. Lucky you though, I guess at least it takes that particular worry out of the equation!! :-) Thanks for the good luck wishes, I am hoping of course for a "move along now, nothing to see here" but bracing myself for next steps if that doesnt happen.



Moggsy your post was such a comfort to me last night and allowed me to go to my colposcopy today feeling much more relaxed!


I have to say my experience today ( although I was told I have a tumour/almost certainly cancer) was very good. It was far less uncomfortable than when I had my smear a few weeks ago- I had been told my cervix was posterior and that's why it hurt but he did an internal to locate the cervix and nope- it's anterior ! That sorted the procedure itself was painless and straightforward. I also think the fact the table tilts etc makes it far easier for the cervix to be visualised. 


So to anyone scared about having a colposcopy I can say absolutely hand on heart that it is at worst a little uncomfortable.

Hi Ostrich

Well, if it doesn't sound too trite under the circumstances, if it helped you to not stress to much about the colposcopy at least, I am glad for that.

Hopefully you will get the same good care from here on in .... I hope that there are some ladies on the forum who have had the same diagnosis as you who can help you with what to expect next. I am so glad I found this forum - it really does help to hear it first hand from someone who is further down the road in investigation and / or treatment.

Best of luck for whatever they propose next, I'll keep my fingers crossed that they manage to sort you out effectively!

x x

I am waiting for my colposcopy next week and am so anxious so thank you for the clear and concise run through of what happens

Hi there

Good luck for your appointment and hope it all goes fine for you. I think it's perfectly normal to be anxious (there are no posts on here saying "got my colposcopy next week, ca't wait!", are there?) but I promise you it really isn't too bad, and it is over very quickly.

x x