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 What is a colposcopy? What are the benefits of colposcopy?
Why would a woman need a colposcopy?
What happens during the procedure? Does it hurt?
What happens after the procedure? How do you feel?
Are there any risks with having a colposcopy?

What is a colposcopy? What are the benefits of colposcopy? >

Colposcopy is a procedure that uses a special microscope (called a colposcope) to look into the vagina and to look very closely at the cervix (the opening to the uterus, or womb).

The colposcope magnifies the image of the outer portion of the cervix. It is somewhat like looking through a pair of binoculars. This allows the GYNAECOLOGIST to see the outer portion of the cervix better. Sometimes a small sample of tissue (called a biopsy) is taken for further study. The tissue samples help the health care provider to figure out how to treat any problems found. And, if cancer of the cervix is found early, or a precancerous change of cells is found, it can be treated and almost always can be cured. Also, for pre cancers and early cancers of the cervix, sometimes removal of part of the cervix may be the only treatment needed.

Why would a woman need a colposcopy? >

Colposcopy is usually done when a woman has an abnormal cervical smear test. (The tests are done on a regular basis to screen for cancer of the cervix and other problems.) Other reasons a woman may need a colposcopy is when, during a pelvic exam, the cervix, vagina, or vulva looks abnormal to the health care provider.

What happens during the procedure? Does it hurt? >

When you have a colposcopy, you will lie on an exam table just like you do when you have a regular pelvic exam with both legs on stirrups. The health care provider uses an instrument called a speculum to spread the walls of the vagina apart. She or he then places the colposcope, which is like a microscope with a light on the end, at the opening of the vagina. The colposcope does not enter the vagina. Your doctor will apply different dye to the neck of the womb to facilitate identifying the area which is the source of these abnormal cells. If any areas are of concern, the health care provider may take a small tissue sample (called a biopsy). The tissue is then sent to a lab for further study.

If the source of the abnormal cells is obvious, your gynaecologist might offer you treatment at the same time without taking a biopsy this called (See &Treat approach). The treatment called Loop Excision of the Transformation Zoon (LLETZ) of the cervix.

What happens after the procedure? How do you feel? >

Your Gynaecologist will talk with you about what he or she saw inside your cervix. If a sample of tissue was taken from your cervix (biopsy), the lab results should be ready in 1 to 2 weeks.

Most women feel fine after a colposcopy. You may feel a little light headed and if you had a biopsy, you may have some light bleeding. Talk to your doctor when you need to return for a check up.

Are there any risks with having a colposcopy? >

You may have mild pain and cramping during the procedure and light bleeding afterwards. This most often happens when a biopsy (a small sample of tissue taken from the cervix) is taken.
Bleeding is usually easily controlled with the application of a topical medicine at the time of the procedure.  If you have heavy bleeding, or severe pain after the procedure, you should contact your health care provider right away


What happens at the initial visit? >
The philosophy of the West London Colposcopy Service is to create an environment in which the patient feels comfortable and well informed. Pain medication is not required prior to your colposcopic examination.

At your first visit, a Gynaecologist who is accredited from the British Society of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology (BSCCP) will review your history, provide you with detailed information and will answer your questions. 

It is recommended that women not be menstruating at the time of this procedure, as the cervix may not be visible. If at the time of your appointment you are menstruating, please call the unit as soon as possible and speak with a Nurse or Secretary who will determine if your appointment should be rescheduled. 

Is the procedure painful? >
No, because topical anaesthetic is offered at this unit if patient wish, you may feel mild cramps and pinching when the biopsy tissue is removed. 

Does this procedure affect having children? >
No. The biopsy amount taken from your cervix is very small and removing it will not affect your future pregnancies. The same applied even if you having LETZ Treatment. However, it is important to let your doctor know if you are pregnant now or even if you might be pregnant.  


Why is colposcopy important? >
Colposcopy is important because it can detect cancer of the cervix at an early stage. It's also important to talk with your doctor after the test to be sure that any problems are taken care of right away. 


Will there be bleeding or discharge after a biopsy? >
You may have a dark vaginal discharge after the colposcopy. If your doctor took a biopsy sample during the colposcopy, It's normal to have some bleeding and discharge for a couple of days after the procedure.


When should I call my doctor? >
Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following problems:

  • heavy vaginal bleeding (using more than one sanitary pad per hour)
  • High Fever

Can I use tampons after the procedure? >
No. Don't use tampons and don't put anything in your vagina for three days or until your doctor tells you it's safe. Don't have sexual intercourse for 2-3 days following the colposcopic examination. 
If a biopsy has been performed, make an appointment with your doctor after the colposcopy to discuss the results and the treatment that is planned. Usually it takes one to two weeks for the Colposcopy Unit to get a report from the pathologist who looks at the biopsy tissue. Talk with your doctor if you have more questions.