A colposcopy is a gynecological exam which gives your healthcare provider a magnified look at your cervix. Often recommended after receiving abnormal pap test or pelvic exam results, a colposcopy can detect signs of disease and abnormal cells that are not typically visible in routine testing. In addition, your gynecologist may also recommend a colposcopy if:
- The cervix appears abnormal or inflamed during your gynecological exam
- You experience unexplained bleeding or pain
- You experience benign growths such as polyps
- You suffer from genital warts on the cervix
To schedule a consultation with a qualified healthcare provider in that specializes in the colposcopy procedure, call (718) 743-0505 or contact us online.
Your Colposcopy Exam
A colposcopy exam is conducted in the comfort of your healthcare provider's office. Prior to your exam, your healthcare provider will give you detailed instructions in order to adequately prepare you for the colposcopy such as ceasing the use of tampons, douches or vaginal medications, and avoiding sexual intercourse up to 24-48 hours before your exam. It is also wise to schedule your exam when you are not on your menstrual period; this ensures your healthcare provider can have an optimal view of your cervix.
During your colposcopy exam, you will lie on your back with your feet in supports. Your healthcare provider will use a speculum to separate the vaginal walls and will apply a mild vinegar solution with a cotton swab to remove mucus and help identify abnormal cells. This solution may cause a burning or tingling sensation, but this discomfort is temporary. Your healthcare provider will then utilize a colposcope—a magnifying instrument used to conduct the cervical exam—which employs a bright light and lens to get close and accurate views of the cervix. A colposcope does not enter your vagina; it sits a few inches away from it and your healthcare provider peers through it similarly to binoculars.
If any cells appear to be abnormal during your colposcopy, biopsy of the area may be required. The tissue sample will be sent to a laboratory for further testing. The entire colposcopy procedure takes, on average, 10-20 minutes.
What to Expect After a Colposcopy
Your discomfort after a colposcopy exam is dependent upon if you received a cervical biopsy. In either case, expect to feel mild discomfort and soreness for 1-2 days. A colposcopy which required a biopsy may cause spotting or a dark vaginal discharge. It is important to avoid sexual activity and the use of tampons or douches, if a biopsy was taken, for several days following the procedure. Your healthcare provider will give you a full list of instructions after your exam. However, if you experience heavy bleeding, severe abdominal pain or a fever in the days following your colposcopy, it is vital to contact your healthcare provider immediately to avoid any complications.
At the time of your colposcopy, your healthcare provider will discuss any abnormal findings they viewed during your exam. However, if a cervical biopsy was necessary, a full discussion on your colposcopy results will be delayed several days to weeks while the biopsy is reviewed in a lab.
If your colposcopy returns abnormal results, your healthcare provider will discuss more steps including additional testing and treatment. The most common abnormality is cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia (CIN)—the abnormal growth of squamous cells on the cervix most often caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). If left untreated, CIN can potentially lead to the development of cancer.
CIN is classified on a grading scale of 1 to 3. CIN 1 is low-grade and signifies a small chance of developing cancer. Your healthcare provider will likely recommend ongoing screening to check for changes to the cervix but no direct treatment will be necessary. If your healthcare provider determines you have CIN 2, CIN 3 or cell abnormalities in glandular cells (CGIN), your risk of developing cervical cancer is greater. Your healthcare provider may recommend treatment to destroy these abnormal cells such as laser treatment, cryotherapy or a loop diathermy.
If your pap test, colposcopy and biopsy show varying results, an additional colposcopy may be necessary. Schedule a consultation with a qualified women's health professional in that can conduct a colposcopy exam. Call (718) 743-0505 or contact us online to get started today.