What is a Colposcopy?
If your Pap test or pelvic exam uncovers abnormalities, your St. John’s Physician Partners gynecologist may recommend a colposcopy. This procedure can help your doctor diagnose a variety of conditions such as pre-cancerous changes in the tissue of the cervix, vagina and vulva as well as genital warts. The results will determine if further testing or treatment is needed.
Colposcopy Potential Risks and Complications
Colposcopy is a safe procedure with very few risks. Although rare complications from a biopsy taken during a colposcopy may include:
- Heavy bleeding.
- Pelvic Pain.
If you have any of these complications, contact your gynecologist immediately.
What to Expect
What to Expect During a Colposcopy
Colposcopy is a safe procedure usually done in your gynecologist’s office and takes 10 to 20 minutes. Here’s what to expect:
- You lie on your back with your feet in the stirrups, just like a regular pelvic exam or Pap test.
- The doctor then inserts a speculum in your vagina and positions a special magnifying instrument called colposcope and shines a bright light in your vagina.
- Your cervix and vagina are swabbed with cotton to clear away any mucus and the doctor may apply a solution to the area to help highlight any areas of suspicious cells. The solution may cause a tingling sensation.
- If suspicious cells are discovered, a small sample of tissue may be collected for laboratory testing.
- Depending on the type of tissue removed such as a cervical biopsy, you may feel mild discomfort, pressure or cramping.
- A biopsy of the lower portion of the vagina or vulva can cause pain so you may be administered a local anesthetic
If your doctor didn’t take a biopsy during the procedure, you can go back to your normal activity once the exam is finished. You may experience some spotting or very light bleeding in the next day or two. You should avoid tampons, douching or vaginal intercourse for a week if a biopsy was performed. You should contact your doctor after colposcopy if you have signs of heavy bleeding, chills, pelvic pain, fever and severe abdominal pain.