Re: abnormal papsmears
Wow, I can't believe they just send you your results in the mail! I'm in Australia and my Pap Smear results have always been discussed with my GP or his medical receptionist over the phone.
Anyway, to put your mind at ease. An abnormal Pap smear does NOT mean you have cancer! Abnormalities are almost always the result of infection with HPV - Human Papilloma Virus - a very common form of warts. Abnormalities are graded from low-grade to high-grade. Untreated abnormalities can turn to cancer further down the track, but basically detecting abormalities during a Pap smear, gives you the opportunity to have the infection treated before it has the chance to become cancer.
A colposcopy isn't much more invasive than a Pap smear. Basically your gynae will look at your cervix through a colposcope which magnifies the area so he/she can see how extensive the infection is. Sometimes they might take a biopsy for further testing. If they do this, you can expect a bit of bleeding for a few days. Depending on what your gynae thinks, there are a number of treatments. I've had a LLETZ procedure done twice, which uses an electrified wire loop to cut away the infected cells. This is a relatively minor procedure done in the gynae's office usually. I had bleeding for about two weeks after each one, and I gather this is normal. Other times a low-grade infection (CIN1), can just be left to heal of its own accord. I believe it can take up to 12 months to clear, but often people with a healthy immune system can clear the infection without intervention. If it is left to clear on its own, I recommend Vitamin C and zinc for healthy healing! No matter what your gynae chooses to do, you will need to have regular follow-up smears just to keep an eye on things.
I hope this is helpful. Just be assured that abnormal Pap smears, although unwanted, and relatively common, and treatment is available. In Australia, most young women now have the 'Gardisil' injection, which is an immunisation that helps prevent infection with many of the papilloma strains associated with cervical cancer. Having an abnormal smear does NOT mean you have cancer!
Good luck, I hope it all resolves as easily as I think it will!