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I am 20 years old, do I really need to get a colposcopy?

By Anonymous August 27, 2010 - 8:29pm
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I am 20 years old and other than a few recent problems I appear to be completely healthy. About 8 months ago, I had an abnormal pap so I was put on the wait and see policy considering my age. In the mean time, I found out I have polycystic ovaries and I got a large cyst on my right ovary after I quit taking birth control pills. I found out about the cyst because I was having chronic pain in my lower right abdomen. The cyst went away, but the pain remained. So I had a laparoscopy a little over a week ago that didn't find anything. During my pre-op for the laparoscopy, I had a re-pap. I just found out that it again came back abnormal and now my GYN wants to do a colposcopy. Why do I feel like I am way too young to be having all of these procedures done? The pain in my abdomen is still there and has gradually been getting worse. Could the abnormal pap and the pain be related? And do you think that I should have the colposcopy done even though I am only 20 years old. Most sources I have been able to find say that a colposcopy for my age group would probably be a waste of time and money, but I have been having all these other problems. I am concerned, and I am not sure what to do.

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EmpowHER Guest

Thank you. This all makes me feel better about having so many procedures done. I will keep you posted. The colposcopy is scheduled for Wednesday, so hopefully I will have good news soon.

August 30, 2010 - 8:50pm
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Anon, yes, the abnormal pain and abnormal pap could be related and it’s important to find out what’s going on. The need for a colposcopy is a medical need that has nothing to do with your age, and even if you were still a teenager your doctor would most likely want to do this procedure because of your abnormal pap results. You’ve mentioned that you have pain in addition to the abnormal results, and the cause of the pain remains undetermined, providing another reason for additional diagnostic tests.

A pap smear only screens for potential problems, the doctor needs to take a closer look at your cervix and vagina through a colposcopy as part of the diagnostic process to determine why you have abnormal results. While it can be uncomfortable, a colposcopy is a simple, 10- to 15-minute office procedure that is pretty much painless. The doctor uses a colposcope, which is a large, electric microscope, to view your cervix. You can learn more here: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/colposcopy/MY00236

While you may feel you are too young for diagnostic tests, I suspect you also feel you are “too young” to have cervical cancer, ovarian cancer or another serious illness. Unfortunately, cancer does not discriminate by age and your doctor knows this. We live in a time when tools are now available to detect, diagnose and treat serious medical conditions at an early stage and enable women to go on to lead full, normal lives.

I am a 23-year breast cancer survivor, and I know what it’s like to have “sources” tell you that you are “too young” for procedures. I also know what it’s like to have a clean bill of health, and live a full, normal life. I hope you will learn all that you can to empower yourself to understand the health conditions you’re dealing with and take care of your health. Good luck to you and please keep us posted.

August 30, 2010 - 5:41pm
EmpowHER Guest

Hi Anonymous,
Thank you for your question. Seeing a physician is essential as they will be the ones to try and solve your pain issues as we can only base our opinions on what you explain to us. My advice would be to try and get a second opinion. In most instances, physicians may perform several tests before coming up with a definitive answer to your issues so maybe a second opinion may be beneficial. Remember if one test is negative, they may have to perform other tests to try and find the solution to your pain.

Can you keep us updated on your status?

August 28, 2010 - 10:31am
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