Overview of colposcopy, procedure, risks, and results

Overview of Colposcopy

A colposcopy is a relatively painless diagnostic procedure performed by your gynaecologist to get a closer look at your cervix (the opening to your womb). This is so he or she can check for any abnormal cells or genital warts and other non-cancerous growths (polyps.)

During the examination, your doctor uses a special instrument, a colposcopy, which shows the details of your cervix. Furthermore, the results of this procedure may be known immediately sometimes.

Procedure

Are you wondering how a doctor performs this test? Whether your doctor or gynecologist is doing the procedure at a medical office, a clinic, or the hospital, you will first have to lie on a table before the examination. Next, the doctor inserts a speculum (a smooth and tube-like tool) in your vagina to open and separate its walls so he can have a clearer view of your cervix.

The doctor will then use a mild vinegar solution to wash your cervix so he can easily notice any abnormal skin changes on the cervix or vagina wall. You may feel a burning or stinging sensation at this point. After this, he will take a colposcope, position it between your legs and use it to look at your cervix under magnification. Notably, this instrument is placed close enough but never touches nor gets into your body. Further examination with an application of Lugol’s iodine is also often performed to delineate any abnormal changes.

In case your primary care provider finds any abnormal skin changes, he will take a small sample of rhe skin cells and then send it to the lab for testing (biopsy). Importantly, you shouldn’t have penetrative vaginal sex, go swimming or insert anything in your vagina e.g tampons, after going for this procedure for at least a week. If you are on your period, don’t go for a colposcopy. Pregnant women should also let their doctors know before the appointment.

Moreover, since you may end up bleeding slightly after the procedure, ensure you carry a sanitary pad or a panty liner to the appointment. Also, you can carry some pain relievers too.

Indications for a Colposcopy

The following are the women who are at a risk, hence their doctors may suggest colposcopy;

    • Those whose Pap test or Pap smear results have come out abnormal.
    • Those with positive human papillomavirus (HPV) test.
    • Those which suspicious vaginal symptoms such as postcoital bleeding or findings of lumps in the vagina or vulva

As much as you may be at risk, a colposcopy can help you know whether you have abnormal cells that may lead to cancer or not.

Results of Colposcopy

Once you undergo a colposcopy, what about the results? The good thing is that your doctor will inform you straight away if you don’t have any abnormal cells in your cervix.

If there are signs of abnormal cells and the doctor sends a sample for testing (biopsy), the results may be normal (no abnormal cells found) or abnormal (abnormal results found.)
Depending on the biopsy results, the doctor will advise you accordingly what to do next.

Conclusion

Colposcopy is a diagnostic procedure carried out to look at your cervix and vagina to check whether there are any abnormal cells. It is fast and causes little pain.

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