A mildly abnormal result is unlikely to represent a significant risk and any cell changes may return to normal of their own accord. In this instance it is common to check your smear again in a few months time and only move forward to further investigation if this has not resolved.
A moderate or severely abnormal smear would result in a referral for colposcopy to investigate the cell changes further and for any necessary treatment. If they are left unchecked and untreated there is a risk that the cells could develop into cervical cancer.
Colposcopy is an examination of the cervix (neck of the womb) using a specially designed microscope (colposcope).
Colposcopy is usually carried out when abnormal cells have been found during a smear test and may be recommended if you have:
Similar to having a smear test, a speculum is inserted into the vagina so that the opening of the cervix can be seen and is then viewed using a colposcope (this is not inserted into the body).
If any abnormal cells are detected a small tissue sample will be taken from the cervix (biopsy), and then examined under a microscope. If the abnormal cells go further into the cervix a cone biopsy may be required (this is where a larger cone shaped tissue sample is taken).
A colposcopy will show whether or not treatment is needed. If treatment is required this is usually carried out under local anaesthetic in the clinic with diagnostic biopsies taken at the same time.
It is recommended that this procedure isn’t carried out when you have your period, as this can make the cervix difficult to see.
Colposcopy can be performed in our dedicated treatment room at The Surrey Park Clinic, under local anaesthetic. Although a general anaesthetic is not generally necessary for this simple procedure, you could opt for this, in which case the procedure would be performed at a local private hospital.