Gynecology Services - Colposcopy
A colposcopy is a medical diagnostic procedure used to closely examine a woman’s cervix, vagina, and vulva for signs of disease. It is often conducted when abnormal results have been detected on a Pap smear or HPV test. During the procedure, a healthcare provider uses a device known as a colposcope, which provides a magnified view of the areas, enabling the identification of any potential issues. Sometimes, small tissue samples may be taken for further examination in a process known as biopsy.
Before a colposcopy, a few simple steps can help prepare you for the procedure. Firstly, try to schedule your appointment when you’re not menstruating as bleeding can make it harder for the doctor to examine your cervix. Avoid using tampons, douches, or vaginal medications for at least 24 hours before your procedure. Sexual intercourse should also be avoided in this period. To manage potential discomfort, you may take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen about an hour before your appointment. Remember to inform your healthcare provider of any allergies, current medications, or if you are pregnant. On the day of the procedure, wearing comfortable clothing and possibly bringing a sanitary pad for light spotting afterwards can be beneficial.
During a colposcopy, you will be asked to undress from the waist down. You’ll lie back on an examination table, similar to the positioning during a Pap smear, with your feet in supports. The doctor will use a speculum to hold your vaginal walls apart. Then, they’ll use the colposcope — which remains outside your body — to illuminate and magnify the view of your cervix and vagina.
If abnormal areas are identified, a biopsy might be taken. This involves extracting small samples of tissue using Tischler forceps. You might feel a pinch or a cramp during this part of the process. In the case of an endocervical curettage, a small brush or other instrument is used to collect a sample from your cervical canal, which might cause some discomfort. The entire procedure typically lasts about 15 minutes.
After a colposcopy with biopsy, the healthcare provider may apply a solution called Monsel’s solution to the biopsy site. This substance, also known as ferric subsulfate solution, helps control any post-biopsy bleeding and promote healing. It may cause a dark, coffee ground-like vaginal discharge for a few days following the procedure. This is a normal part of the healing process and should not be a cause for alarm. Just ensure to wear a pad until the discharge stops. Contact your healthcare provider if you notice heavy bleeding, severe pain, fever, or any other unusual symptoms.
If tissue samples are taken during the biopsy, they are sent to a lab where they are examined under a microscope by a pathologist. Results are typically available within one to two weeks. You will be notified of these results and any suggested next steps if required. It’s important to remember that a colposcopy is a diagnostic test, and further treatment will depend on the diagnosis. If you have any questions or concerns following the procedure, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider.