Alle’s Guide To Getting Through A Colposcopy

Eek! Once again, I’ve been a terrible, neglectful blogger and have left this to languish on the sidelines. I have a couple of excuses: one, that I was recovering from surgery and two, when I got home again, my internet was mysteriously gone and has only been fixed…well, about half an hour ago. Also I have a cold. Again. My time has mostly been spent sleeping and blowing and nose and begging for someone to put me out of my misery. I know; I get diagnosed with cancer and I’m like “Whatever” and then I get the flu and am all “OMG GOING TO DIE.” Totally appropriate response to the drama.

Holy shit, I have So! Much! To talk about! Because so much has happened! I have to break it up, because otherwise this shit’s never going to happen. First, The Serious Shit, subcategory: Cancer.

Item one. Alle’s Guide To Getting Through A Colposcopy.

– 800mg of ibuprofen, usually 3 or 4 tablets, more or less as your doctor advises.
– A pad, not a tampon–trust, you’re not going to want to stick anything up there for a while afterwards.
– A pep talk from a friend the day before. Hi, Charlotte!
– One Valium, two if your mother is picking fights with you the day of, as mine was and always does when she’s nervous.

First question, as typed into Google and which has brought at least three people to this blog: Who needs a colposcopy?
The answer is, more people than you’d think. A highly unscientific survey of twelve of my close friends showed that ten of them had had an irregular pap smear at some point in their life, and eight of that ten went on to have a colposcopy. And they are all still here with us (well, with me).

Second question, as typed into Google and which has brought at least five people to this blog: Do colposcopies hurt?
The answer is no with a but, the “but” being that pain is a really subjective experience. I know people who swear that pap smears hurt, that having their teeth cleaned hurts, that having their hair cut hurts (seriously). I also know people who step on glass and don’t notice, who get shots and don’t care and who fall asleep while getting tattooed. I fall into the latter category; as Dalton (RIP) said, pain don’t hurt. The skill of the doctor, I think, also plays a role in whether or not this is uncomfortable versus painful, and my doctor happens to be very gentle. What it feels like is a regular pap smear, and if the doctor needs to take a sample from an area, they’ll spray-numb it up and then it feels like a weird pinch. It’s not bad.

To summarise, a colposcopy is uncomfortable. If you don’t find pap smears painful, you probably won’t find this painful. Lots of variables, though. Minimise your discomfort by taking the ibuprofen and be as relaxed as possible (that’s where the Valium comes in).

After the fact, yes, it hurts a little. It feels like a superperiod–crampy and ick–and your insides will feel a little numb, which is a totally bizarre feeling. You might bleed a little, but as long as it’s not a LOT, it’s okay. Stay off your feet for a day or so and rest, and let your body heal. If anything seems really weird–and you know your own body, so you know what I mean when I say “really weird”–call your doctor right away.

By the way, I think it bears mentioning that I’m not a medical professional in any way–duh–and that advice from your doctor should totally trump advice from some girl on the internet any day of the week. But I have lived through this, so while I may not be qualified to give you a shot and a lollipop myself, I’m certainly qualified to talk about my experiences with the whole thing.

OKAY. SO. That’s part one of The Serious Shit right here & I hope that it answered your questions. If you have any other questions, please leave me a comment. I leave you now with a picture that is old, yes, but that makes me laugh every damn time I see it:

Loves you!

6 thoughts on “Alle’s Guide To Getting Through A Colposcopy

  1. I am very (don’t wanna say afraid) not looking forward to having this done next week. But got know what’s going on right! I hate pain!!! I will check back to tell you PAIN or no pain!!! Thank you for the article!

    1. I know that probably everyone and their dog is telling you not to worry because everything is gonna be alright. I’m not going to bother with that because sometimes things AREN’T alright. What I will say is that even if things AREN’T alright right this second, treatment options are many & advanced, and you’ll be back to awesome soon. And if things ARE okay–which is what I do sincerely hope–someday when a friend says “I’m totally scared about this colpo-thing,” you’ll be able to say “I HAVE HAD ONE, HERE IS WHAT IT’S LIKE.”

      I hope that everything is okay, that you have no pain (outside of mild discomfort, which is not avoidable) and that everything comes back okay. Big hugs and good luck.

  2. Hi Alle,

    IM SOOO SCARED! I will be undergoing a colpo next week and im really freaking out. The doctor said I have HPV and that has totally stressed me out. I think I’m letting it get the best of me. My boyfriend is very supportive of me , that helps a lot. Thank you for the blog. It’s good to know that I am not alone. Wish me luck and I will let you know the results next week.

    1. Hey Savannah, I hope everything goes well for you this week! I know it sounds dumb to tell you to relax, because it’s scary and how can you even do that, you know? But please do try. I’m glad your boyfriend is being supportive and I hope you have some other people in your life you can talk to also. I’m wishing you all the good luck in the world, please let me know how it all works out xoxoxoxo

  3. I know this is super old, but I just wanted to comment and share my incredulity at the fact that your doctor numbed you for this. Not because I don’t think it hurts; I have had several colpos and had to be biopsied once, and both doctors (suffice it to say, both are male) told me that they couldn’t numb me because, and I quote, “the shot hurts worse than the biopsy.”
    So, yeah, that may be true for some people, but I thought it hurt much worse than stubbing your toe (as the evil doctor who didn’t make me feel at all comfortable, and also made me feel very small and ashamed to be female, told me). Maybe I need to look into finding a female doctor? Sounds like it.


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