Colposcopy is a simple procedure that allows the doctor to closely examine the cervix, vagina and vulva for signs of disease. This exam takes 5 to 10 minutes and the experience of having it done is very similar to what it feels like to have a Pap smear done. However, during a colposcopy, the doctor uses an instrument called a colposcope to view the inside of the vagina, cervix and vulva.
Colposcopy is most often recommended after receiving abnormal results of a Pap smear to further deduce and diagnose any problems. If the doctor finds an unusual grouping of cells during colposcopy, a biopsy or sample of tissue may be collected for testing.
Why You Might Need a Colposcopy
Your doctor may recommend that you get a colposcopy to help diagnose many different conditions, including:
- Genital warts
- Inflammation of the cervix (cervicitis)
- Precancerous changes in the tissue of the cervix
- Precancerous changes in the tissue of the vagina
- Precancerous changes of the vulva
If the doctor has recently recommended a colposcopy, he or she may have a reason to believe something may not be quite right with the cervix. Some of these reasons might include:
- Abnormal Pap results
- The cervix looked abnormal during a pelvic exam
- Testing positive for Human papillomavirus, or HPV
- Experiencing unexplained bleeding
A colposcopy can be used to diagnose cervical cancer, genital warts, vaginal cancer, and vulvar cancer, as well. Once the doctor gets the results from the colposcopy, you will be informed as to whether or not you need further testing, and what your options might be.
How to Prepare for a Colposcopy
A hysteroscopy is an outpatient surgery that is done under either local or general anesthesia. Most hysteroscopies also require medication used to dilate the cervix as well. During the procedure, the doctor will use a speculum inserted into the vagina to keep it open. Next, your doctor will gently insert the hysteroscope through the cervix into the uterus. Saline or gas will then be pushed through the hysteroscope into the uterus to expand the walls so that your doctor will have a clear view of the uterine lining and the opening of the fallopian tubes. If surgery or biopsies are required, small instruments are inserted into the uterus through the hysteroscope.
While a hysteroscopy is used to see the inside of the uterus and the opening of the fallopian tubes, sometimes your doctor will also want to view the outside of these organs. This is done through a procedure called laparoscopy, in which a laparoscope is used at the same time to view the outside of the uterus. In laparoscopy, a doctor will insert an endoscope (a thin tube attached with a fiber optic camera at the end) into your abdomen through a small incision made through or below the navel. Laparoscopy allows your doctor to view the outside of the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Operative hysteroscopy is used to correct abnormalities that were detected during a diagnostic hysteroscopy. Diagnostic and operative hysteroscopies can be performed at the same time. During operative hysteroscopy, small instruments used to correct the condition are inserted through the hysteroscope. Hysteroscopy can be used to remove uterine polyps and fibroids, locate and remove bands of uterine scar tissue called adhesions, can determine whether a septum (a malformation of the uterus formed at birth) is present, and can help identify the cause of abnormal bleeding and menstrual flow.
Potential Side Effects and Risk Factors for Colposcopy
Colposcopy is a safe procedure that carries very few risks and side effects. Infrequent complications from biopsies taken during colposcopy occasionally occur, such as heavy bleeding, infection and pelvic pain.
Signs and symptoms that may indicate complications due to the procedure include:
- Heavy bleeding
- Severe abdominal pain
Call your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms after your colposcopy.
How Advanced Gynecology Can Help: Options for Colposcopy
If you have received an abnormal Pap test result and need further testing, Advanced Gynecology is here for you.
Our board-certified team of women’s health experts are ready to help you with diagnostic care and a range of treatment options.
We will counsel you about the best options for you and your health.
For more information, schedule an appointment today or call 706-389-9228 to speak with one of our patient coordinators.