Cervical Screening

Cone biopsy

Cone Biopsy can be used to treat abnormal cervical cells also known as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN). Sometimes a cone biopsy is used if the cells are higher up the cervix. A small, cone-shaped piece of cervix, which contains the abnormal cells, is removed. This is usually carried out under general anaesthetic.

We asked women about their experiences of cone biopsy as a treatment for abnormal cervical cells.
Some women who had smaller areas of their cervix removed had their cone biopsy under local anaesthetic and shortly after the procedure they were able to go home.
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Some women had their treatment under general anaesthetic. Some had gauze-like packing put in their vagina during the cone biopsy operation to prevent heavy bleeding or haemorrhaging. Many women said they found the removal of the packing painful.
After their cone biopsy, it was common for women to experience some discomfort or pain and bleeding. Some said they felt vulnerable and a bit emotional afterwards.
After a cone biopsy, women are advised not to have sex for five to six weeks.
Women who have had a cone biopsy are slightly more likely (2*) to develop an incompetent cervix (inability for the cervix to hold a pregnancy to full term) and have their babies before 37 weeks (preterm delivery). All the women we interviewed who had this treatment had completed their families or were interviewed soon after treatment and so they had no experience of this side effect.

Women we interviewed said they did not experience any long term side effects from their cone biopsy. However, one woman had since had difficulty getting adequate cervical cells taken during her screening tests which she had been told was a side effect of her cone biopsy.
See more experiences of Cervical abnormalities: CIN3 and CGIN.

*Tucker, D. E. "Cervical Incompetence." Women's Health Information. Mar. 2004. 3 Jan. 2005; Donate to healthtalk.org

Last reviewed October 2015.

Last updated October 2015.


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