A colposcopy is a procedure to find out whether there are any abnormal cells on or in a woman’s cervix or vagina.
The exam takes 5 to 10 minutes, and is a lot like getting a Pap smear. One of the biggest differences is your doctor uses a special magnifying instrument called a colposcope.
You usually get a colposcopy if you had some sort of abnormal results on your Pap test so your doctor can further diagnose any problems.
Why do you need a colposcopy?
If your doctor has reason to believe something may not be quite right with your cervix, they may recommend a colposcopy.
Some of these reasons might include:
- Your cervical smear results were abnormal.
- Your cervix looks abnormal during a pelvic exam.
- Tests show you have the human papillomavirus, or HPV.
- You have unexplained bleeding or other problems.
- Your doctor can use a colposcopy to diagnose cervical cancer, genital warts, vaginal cancer, and vulvar cancer, as well.
Once your doctor gets the results from your colposcopy, they will know whether or not you need further tests.
How is a colposcopy performed?
Your doctor will have you lie on an exam table, and they will use a speculum to keep your vagina open. Next, they will dab a cotton swab in a vinegar-like solution and use it to wipe your cervix and vagina. This will help them see any cells that don’t look normal.
Then, they will use the colposcope to examine your cervix and vulva.
Will I need a cervical biopsy?
This is only done if your doctor finds something that doesn’t look normal during your colposcopy. If they find several areas that don’t look right, they will perform a biopsy.
Your doctor will do the biopsy right after your colposcopy. They will take a sample of tissue from the abnormal area.
What will the results show?
The biopsy samples will be sent off for testing. The results will give your doctor an idea of what steps they should take next.
If they are able to remove all the abnormal cells during the biopsy, you may not need more treatment.
They may also suggest one of the following options to remove the cells and prevent cervical cancer:
- Cone biopsy. Your doctor cuts a cone-shaped piece of tissue from your cervix to remove any precancerous cells. The abnormal cells are typically precancerous or cancerous.
- Cryotherapy. Your doctor uses liquid gas to freeze abnormal cells from your cervix.
- Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP). Your doctor removes abnormal cells with a wire loop that carries an electric current.
Are there any risks in having a colposcopy?
Colposcopy is a routine procedure and complications are rare.
Following a colposcopy we recommend to ring your doctor straight away if you show any signs of infection, such as:
- Fever of 100.4 F or higher
- Heavy, yellow, stinky vaginal discharge
- Severe pain in your lower abdomen that isn’t relieved by over-the-counter pain relievers
- Vaginal bleeding that lasts more than 7 days
There is always a risk that test results are incorrect. It is rare, but it can happen. There is a chance that abnormal cells can come back, even after your doctor removes them. This is why it is important to continue to get regular cervical smears and check-ups.
To book your colposcopy appointment, contact Jafaru Abu here.