Colposcopy is a way of examining the cervix through a special magnifying device called a colposcope. It shines a light into the vagina and onto the cervix. A colposcope can greatly enlarge the normal view. This exam allows the health care provider to be able to find problems that cannot be seen by the eye alone.
Why is colposcopy done?
When the results of a cervical cancer screening test show abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix a Colposcopy is done. Colposcopy provides more information about the abnormal cells. Also, Colposcopy may be used to further assess other problems:
- Genital warts on the cervix
- Cervicitis (an inflamed cervix)
Colposcopy may need to be done more than once. It also can be used to check the result of a treatment.
How is the Colposcopy performed?
Colposcopy is done in the provider’s office. It is best to do the procedure when a woman is not having her menstrual period. This gives the health care provider a better view of the cervix. At least 24 hours before you test, you should refrain from the following:
- Vaginal medications
As with a pelvic exam, you will lie on your back with your feet raised and placed on foot rests for support. A speculum will be used to hold apart the vaginal walls so that the inside of the vagina and the cervix can be seen. The colposcope is placed just outside the opening of your vagina. A mild solution will be applied to your cervix and vagina with a cotton swab or cotton ball. This liquid makes abnormal areas on the cervix easier to see. You may feel a slight burning. ￼￼
When is a biopsy done during colposcopy?
We may see abnormal areas during a colposcopy, if so, a biopsy of these areas may be done. During a biopsy, a small piece of tissue is removed from the cervix. The sample is removed with a special device. Cells also may be taken from the canal of the cervix. A special device is used to collect the cells. This is called endocervical curettage (ECC).
What can I expect during recovery?
If you have a colposcopy without a biopsy, you should feel fine right away. You can do what you normally would. You may have minimal spotting for a day or two.
If you have a colposcopy with a biopsy, your vagina may feel sore for a couple of days. You also may have a dark discharge due to the medication that is used to help stop bleeding at the biopsy site. You may want to wear a sanitary pad until the discharge stops. You may need to limit activity for a brief time.
Until the cervix heals, do not put anything into your vagina:
- No Intercourse
- No Tampons
- No Douching.
Call our office at 770-887-0559 if you are having any of these problems:
- Heavy vaginal bleeding (using more than one sanitary pad per hour)
- Severe lower abdominal pain