A Pap test or (Pap smear) is a screening test for cervical cancer. The Pap test is recommended for all women starting at age 21 and continues through age 65 years of age. The Pap test looks for cell changes on the cervix that could advance to cancer if not evaluated and treated appropriately. HPV (human papillomavirus) is often tested with the Pap test. This is a virus that can cause cell changes on your cervix. During your pap test the clinician will use a plastic or metal instrument called a speculum. This speculum is gently placed into your vagina and a warm light above helps examine your vagina and cervix. The clinician will collect cells and mucus from your cervix and place into a container to send to the laboratory. The laboratory will check for abnormal cells and HPV if this test is right for you.
If you have had an abnormal Pap test or your cervix looks abnormal during a Gynecologic exam, your provider may recommend that you have a colposcopy. A colposcopy procedure uses an instrument similar to binoculars to look very closely at your cervix. If at the time of colposcopy the cervix does not look normal, your provider may perform a biopsy to remove a tiny sample of tissue. This sample will be sent to a laboratory to be evaluated by a pathologist to determine if more tests or treatments are needed. The entire colposcopy and biopsy procedure takes approximately 10 minutes. A Most women experience only minor discomfort and they are able to resume their daily activities immediately following the visit.
Endometrial biopsy is a procedure used to remove a small tissue sample from the lining of your uterus, called the endometrium. The tissue is removed with mild suction from a tube that is inserted into your uterus through the cervix. The tissue sample is then examined under a microscope looking for abnormal cells. Your provider may have recommended a biopsy for irregular menstrual bleeding, bleeding after menopause, or not bleeding at all. An endometrial biopsy may be used to check for hormonal changes, infection, abnormal cells, or cancer.
Genital warts are growths on the skin of the sex organs and possibly the anus. They are flesh-colored bumps that look like cauliflower. In women, the most common site is around the opening of the vagina. In men, the most common area is around the shaft or tip of the penis. The body’s immune system often destroys the virus and warts may go away on their own without treatment. You may choose to have them treated if they are uncomfortable, get in the way, or your clinician may recommend you have them removed. Your clinician will help you decide which method is best for you. Even though the warts may be treated, they also may come back. Warts are caused by a virus and the treatment is not necessarily a cure. The benefits of treatment is often resolution of the warts.
LEEP (Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure) is performed to further evaluate abnormal cervical cells. Excision provides a sample of tissue to confirm the degree of abnormality and check for cancerous or precancerous cells deep within the cervix. For some women, excision can also remove the abnormal cells completely. If the edges of the tissue that is removed show evidence of the abnormality or precancer, further treatment may be needed. This procedure utilizes a very thin wire in the shape of a loop and modern electrosurgical generators that allow accurate and selective blending of an electric current. The loop is carefully passed from one side of the cervix to the other, allowing the cutting current to divide the tissue. The removed portion of the cervix will be sent to a pathology lab for microscopic evaluation. Typically, a woman is seen for a follow up examination several weeks after treatment to make sure the cervix is healing.
Symptoms of a possible vaginal infection may include a bad odor with increased discharge, a burning sensation during urination, heavy yellowish or greenish discharge, white and clumpy discharge (i.e. like cottage cheese), or itching around the vaginal opening. Learn more about screening and treatment.
Vulvar Biopsy is a procedure used to diagnose irregular skin tissue often located on the sides of the vaginal opening called the vulva. The sampling is easily done in the office with a small biopsy instrument that picks up a sample of skin tissue when rotated with gentle pressure on the skin. Vulvar biopsy should be done if the abnormal skin area is worrisome for pre-cancer (strange shape, irregular borders, non-healing, change in color, or bleeding). If a diagnosis cannot be made by examining the skin, or treatment you have tried is not working, then a sample of skin tissue needs to be sent for evaluation by a pathologist.