A Colposcopy is a test that looks at the cervix, vagina and vulva in detail. This is done using a Colposcope, which is like a large magnifying glass on a stand that helps a doctor see cervical and vaginal changes that cannot be seen with the naked eye. A colposcopy and biopsy are the primary tests used for diagnosing cervical, vulvar and vaginal cancers.
Why you May Need Colposcopy
- A routine Cervical Screening Test (CST) shows abnormal cells that need treatment.
- A CST shows you have the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
- The cervix looks abnormal during a pelvic examination.
- There is unexplained bleeding or other problems that need investigation.
A Colposcopy takes about 15 minutes. You will be naked from the waist down, given a gown to wear and positioned comfortably on your back with your feet drawn up and knees apart. A speculum is gently inserted vaginally, so the cervix can be viewed clearly with the Colposcope. The vagina and cervix may be coated with a special fluid via a cotton swab, to enhance the view of abnormal areas under the Colposcope. Small tissue samples (biopsies) may be taken from any abnormal areas from the cervix, vagina or vulva seen through the Colpscope. The biopsy is usually painless, however some women may experience some mild period like cramping shortly after the procedure, which may require some Panadol or Nurofen.
There may be some light bleeding or vaginal discharge following a colposcopy with biopsy for the first few hours. Avoid using tampons and sexual intercourse for 72 hrs post procedure, to enable the cervix to heal and avoid a risk of infection.
The biopsy sample is sent to the laboratory to be examined under a microscope by a pathologist. The results are usually back the following week and patients are notified if results are low risk and when to follow up with the next cervical screening test (CST). You will be invited back to the rooms for further consultation if your results are high risk and require further surgical treatment.