This is a type of health check for women often carried out by a gynaecologist or family doctor. An instrument known as a colposcope is used in the procedure – it lightens up the cervix area and makes the view large enough for the clinician to see clearly.
Should you have an abnormal Pap smear, a colposcopy may be recommended. The aim of this procedure is to see the cervix in a magnified view. This gives the doctor the chance to identify and diagnose health conditions not seen with the natural eye. For instance, cervical cancer can be spotted early.
Things to know before having colposcopy
You don’t have to be admitted overnight at a clinic to have colposcopy. This is usually performed in the doctor’s office. Before the exam, take a pee and empty your bowels as well. 24 hours before colposcopy, avoid sex, the use of tampons or vaginal medicines, and douching. Inform your clinician should you be pregnant or have allergic reactions to medicines, iodine, or latex.
A dose of ibuprofen (Advil) purchased over-the-counter or some other anti-inflammatory medicine may be recommended by your doctor before you undergo the procedure.
What happens during colposcopy?
The entire procedure spans a timeframe of around 20 to 30 minutes. You’ll be asked to lie on your back on the exam table with legs bent and feet held in stirrups; a similar situation during Pap smear or pelvic exam.
A speculum will first be inserted into your vagina to hold its walls open so the doctor can have a clear view of the inside. It also gives a good view of the cervix. Using a cotton swab, the doctor will rub a solution of iodine or vinegar on your cervix. Upon application, you may experience a slight burning or stinging sensation. This solution will turn any abnormal tissue white.
With the aid of the colposcope, the doctor will look at your cervix next. They may take some pictures of the area with a small camera. Should areas of abnormal tissues be identified, a biopsy may be recommended by your doctor. This has to do with taking small samples from the abnormal tissue area and sending it for laboratory analysis.
Please bear in mind that during the procedure, you may experience some discomfort. Slight cramps may be felt as the speculum penetrates your vagina to open it up. Again, when the doctor takes out tissue for biopsy, you may experience mild cramps or itching. To ease the discomfort, practice muscle relaxation and take slow, deep breaths in between.
Slight cramps may be experienced after the procedure. Over-the-counter pain medication may be taken to alleviate the discomfort. Avoid self-medication by finding out what kind of pain relief, the dosage, and when to take it, from your doctor.
Another occurrence may be a vaginal discharge which could last for 1 or 2 days. The doctor may apply a thick paste to stop bleeding from your cervix during the procedure. A mixture of this paste with blood can cause a dark and thick discharge.
You may likely experience light spotting for which your doctor may ask you use a sanitary pad.
For a minimum of 1 week after colposcopy, avoid vaginal sex, douching (putting things in your vagina), or the use of a tampon.
What you should know
The result from your biopsy may take a week or two to be out. You will be contacted via your doctor’s office and notified should there be a need for treatment.
If the result comes out as normal, it means that no abnormal changes were identified.
If the result comes out as abnormal, it could mean so many things, including any of the following:
- Cervical cancer
- Cervical warts
- Growths on the cervix known as cervical polyps that are not cancerous
- Human papillomavirus (HPV). From the biopsy results, the particular strain of HPV can be identified
- Inflammation of the cervix, a condition known as cervicitis
- Cervical dysplasia (precancerous alterations in the tissue of the cervix)
Is colposcopy associated with risks?
No, it does not carry so much risks. Slight bleeding, pain, or discharge may be experienced in the course of the exam. And if you want to get pregnant later on in life, colposcopy should not prevent you from doing so.
When should you seek medical help?
Although colposcopy is not a risky medical procedure, there may arise certain symptoms after the exam.
So, we advise you contact your doctor immediately should you start experiencing any of these signs and symptoms:
- Chills or fever
- A foul-smelling odour from the vagina
- Pain in the lower stomach that is serious
- Heavy bleeding from the vagina – the type that makes you use multiple sanitary pads in an hour
Some questions you can ask your doctor
A proper understanding of the procedure is important so you can be calm and not under any form of pressure during the exam.
For a clearer picture of what colposcopy is all about, you can ask the doctor certain questions like the following:
- What risks and benefits are there in a colposcopy?
- What is the turnaround time for a colposcopy, and when do I return to my normal daily life?
- In the event that I have an abnormal biopsy result, what are the recommended types of treatment I can get?
- If I am pregnant, will it be possible to have a colposcopy?
If you have any other questions aside the ones listed above, feel free to ask your doctor. They should be able to provide answers and comprehensive details.
At Medical Express Clinic, we offer professional women’s health checks and advice. Our clinic is fully equipped with high-end modern health facilities and equipment. You can book an appointment with any of our doctors for colposcopy or other health checks for women.
It is our aim to ensure you attain a healthy sexual life. We encourage you to visit the website to know more: https://www.medicalexpressclinic.co.uk/colposcopy-london.