Has it been recommended that you have a colposcopy, but you’re not really sure what it is? Let’s delve deeper into what a colposcopy is and why it may be needed.
Your gynaecologist or GP may recommend a colposcopy if you have had an abnormal result from a cervical screening test (pap smear), you’re concerned with bleeding after intercourse or there is a lump or abnormal growth in your cervix or vagina.
A colposcopy is a relatively short procedure, taking approximately five to 10 minutes, with no need for anaesthetic or a stay in hospital.
A colposcopy is just like having a pap smear (cervical screening test). A speculum will be inserted into the vagina to look at the cervix, but the cervix (and vagina) will be more closely examined using a microscope called a colposcope. The colposcope will not touch the person having the colposcopy, it is used like a pair of glasses or binoculars by the gynaecologist. The gynaecologist will apply a small amount of watery vinegar solution to the cervix, using a soft cotton swab, to highlight any abnormalities.
If the gynaecologist notices abnormal cells, a biopsy may be needed and a small tissue sample will be sent to a laboratory for testing. The gynaecologist will always ask your permission before taking a biopsy.
A colposcopy is safe if you’re pregnant, but the gynaecologist would usually avoid taking a cervix biopsy.
It might be slightly uncomfortable when the gynaecologist inserts the speculum (just like when you have a pap smear). You may experience a tingling sensation and you may have a brown coloured discharge after the procedure. If a biopsy is needed, you may have period-like cramps after the procedure which can be managed with paracetamol or ibuprofen.
After a colposcopy you will be able to drive yourself home. You may have some spotting for two to five days, especially if you have had a biopsy. We can provide you with a sanitary pad on the day of your procedure.
For two weeks after, it’s not recommended to use tampons, lubricants, menstrual cups, creams or douches and avoid vaginal intercourse, swimming, bathing and spas to reduce the chance of infection.
You should contact your gynaecologist if you experience heavy bleeding or bleeding that lasts more than five days, or you develop vaginal discharge with an abnormal smell, severe abdominal pain or a temperature.
If you have concerns about unusual bleeding or have an abnormal result from a screening test, you can speak to your GP for a referral to see a Grace gynaecologist. Dr Bridget Gilsenan has extensive experience and a special interest in the management of abnormal pap smears.
At Grace we have two practices conveniently located in Southport at the Gold Coast Private Hospital and The Brickworks, Ferry Road. You can contact Grace online for more information or call 07 5594 7632.