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Is it normal to have a heavy discharge after a colposcopy and cervical biopsy?

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Updated March 01, 2013

Question: Is it normal to have a heavy discharge after a colposcopy and cervical biopsy?
Two days ago, I had a colposcopy because my Pap smear results came back abnormal. To be on the safe side side, my doctor recommended I have a colposcopy and cervical biopsy. I am 26, never been pregnant, and this is my first abnormal Pap smear. I was warned by my doctor of a dark vaginal discharge, but I am experiencing something much worse and frankly, disgusting. At times the discharge is black and clumpy. I have passed what appears to be flesh colored tissue that has dried blood in it. Should I call my doctor? Did something go wrong with my biopsy? I fear I am losing my cervix or tissue from vaginal wall. Help!
Answer: As someone who has had dozens of colposcopy exams and cervical biopsies, I can attest that an unpleasant discharge after the procedure is to be expected. From what you have described, it doesn't appear that you are experiencing complications. I am highly confident that you are not losing your cervix. Such a small amount of tissue is removed during a cervical biopsy; it could not cause you to lose your cervix.

What the vaginal discharge looks like varies from woman to woman; some women will only need a panty liner after the procedure, while others may need to use a regular sanitary napkin for protection. Color, smell, and consistency will also vary.

A very dark discharge is completely normal. It often looks black, dark brown, or even dark red and has a grainy consistency, like coffee grounds. Some women may also experience a more unsightly discharge that looks a lot like raw chicken skin or human tissue, with blood mixed in. Again, this is normal after having a colposcopy. Some women have even erroneously assumed they were pregnant and had a miscarriage because of how the discharge looks.

The cause of the dark and skin toned discharge is caused by a paste called Monsels Solution that is applied to the cervix to stop bleeding after a biopsy. It has the consistency of toothpaste and is mustard colored. When it is expelled from the vagina, it can become black and grainy. It may also appear yellow or skin toned and look like human tissue because it is thick. It is not unusual for the discharge to have an acidic or vinegar smell. During the colposcopy, your doctor applied an vinegar solution to your cervix to help identify abnormal tissue. It should go away in a day or two. If it does not go away, becomes worse, or smells infectious or foul, contact your doctor immediately as it may be a sign of infection. You should also call your doctor if you experience:

  • heavy bleeding (bleeding through a pad an hour)
  • fever (100.4 degrees or higher)
  • chills or shakes
  • spotting/vaginal bleeding that lasts longer than 7 days
  • severe cramping that is not relieved with over-the-counter pain medication
  • bright red bleeding
The risk of infection and complications after a colposcopy and biopsy are relatively low, provided you follow your doctor's instructions for after care. After a colposcopy and biopsy, most doctors recommend avoiding:
  • no sex for a specific amount of time
  • no tampons
  • no douching
  • no heavy lifting (more so for those who had a cervical biopsy with colposcopy)
  • no tub bathing for first 24 hours
As someone who has had dozens of colposcopy exams and cervical biopsies, I can attest that an unpleasant discharge after the procedure is to be expected. From what you have described, it doesn't appear that you are experiencing complications. I am highly confident that you are not losing your cervix. Such a small amount of tissue is removed during a cervical biopsy; it could not cause you to lose your cervix.

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