A colposcopy is a detailed examination of the vulva, vagina and cervix using a colposcope, a powerful magnifying instrument. The procedure lasts approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
For the procedure, patients are asked to lie in the same position as they would for a gynaecological examination. A speculum is inserted into the vagina and a Pap smear is repeated. The cervix is then cleaned and sprayed with an iodine solution. The iodine stain highlights possible lesions. The physician may take a biopsy during the procedure if deemed necessary. A cervical biopsy is often described by patients as a slight, somewhat unpleasant pinch.
What is the purpose of this test?
Generally speaking, a colposcopy is recommended when Pap test results (sample cells) indicate the presence of abnormal cells. The procedure is used to further the diagnosis. Abnormal Pap smear results are common and do not necessarily indicate a major problem.
Physicians may suggest a colposcopy if there is a condyloma, suspicious lesion or if it is technically impossible to see the cervix. This procedure is also recommended for women at high risk for cervical cancer.
There is no particular preparation for this test. You are not required to make any changes to your diet before going for a colposcopy and you should continue to take your medication as usual. To minimize any discomfort during the examination, it is suggested that you urinate before the test.
What does an abnormal result mean?
The results of the colposcopy are generally reviewed and explained to the patient during a follow-up appointment. The most common diagnoses include condyloma, atrophy, polyps, local inflammation and cervical cancer. Results may also serve to confirm that everything with the vulva, vagina and cervix is normal.
After the examination
After the procedure, some patients experience cramps that closely resemble menstrual cramps. If a biopsy is taken, there may be spotting. In such cases, the use of a sanitary napkin is recommended. After a colposcopy, vaginal douches, tampons and sexual intercourse should be avoided for 48 hours. The physician may opt to summarize examination findings or wait for the results of the biopsy.
What to know before going for this test
Before going for a blood test, examination or other, it is always a good idea for you to have a complete list of all prescription or over the counter medications and/or natural products you may be taking. If you are unsure or have any questions, your pharmacist will be able provide you with additional information.
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The patient information leaflets are provided by Vigilance Santé Inc. This content is for information purposes only and does not in any manner whatsoever replace the opinion or advice of your health care professional. Always consult a health care professional before making a decision about your medication or treatment.