What is Colposcopy?
Colposcopy is a procedure in which a special magnifying instrument called a colposcope is used to look into the vagina and into the cervix. The colposcope gives an enlarged view of the outer portion of the cervix.
Why Would a Colposcopy be Necessary?
Colposcopy is done when there are abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix as seen on a Pap test. Further, it may be done to assess problems such as vulvar disease or cancers, genital warts, or inflammation of the cervix.
How is the Procedure Done?
During a colposcopy, you will lie on your back with feet raised just as you do when you have a regular pelvic examination. The doctor uses an instrument called a speculum to hold the walls of the vagina apart. Then the colposcope is placed at the opening of your vagina. A mild solution may be applied to the vagina and cervix with a cotton swab. This makes abnormal areas to be seen easily. The doctor will look inside the vagina to locate any problem. If there are any abnormalities, the doctor may take a small tissue sample called a biopsy. You may feel a mild pinch or cramp while the biopsy sample is taken. The tissue is then sent to a laboratory for further study.
After the Procedure
Your gynecologist will talk to you about any problems detected during colposcopy. If a sample of tissue was taken from your cervix (biopsy), the laboratory results should be ready within 1-2 weeks.
Most women feel fine after colposcopy. You may feel a little lightheaded and, if you have had a biopsy, you may have some mild bleeding. Talk to your gynecologist about how to take care of yourself after the procedure and when you need to return for a checkup.
What are the Risks of Colposcopy?
There may be a risk of infection when you have a colposcopy. Mild pain and cramping during the procedure and mild bleeding afterward are common. This most often happens when a biopsy is done. If there is heavy bleeding, fever, or severe pain after the procedure, contact your gynecologist immediately.
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