A colposcopy is an examination of the external genitalia, vagina and cervix. A colposcope is used and it allows the physician to magnify the view of these organs in order to identify any problems.
A colposcopy is commonly done if you have previously had a Pap smear result. It could also be requested if you have observed genital warts or other growths, abnormal vaginal bleeding, pain or skin changes in your genitals.
Your doctor would enquire about your Last Menstrual Period. The test is usually done when you are NOT menstruating. The test can be done in pregnancy as well. You will be advised to avoid sexual intercourse, douching and use of tampons for at least 24 hours prior to the examination.
Once you consent to the test, you will be asked to lie down on an examination table and your feet placed on rests for support. You will be given an injection to relieve pain before the procedure. The physician will clean the genitalia and separate the vaginal walls using a speculum. The colposcope is then placed in front of the vagina opening and the cervix is then inspected. Subsequently, the physician will apply a solution to the cervix to increase identification of any abnormal area. Usually, small amounts of tissue are taken from these areas. More tissue may be taken from the lining of the cervix. These tissue samples are sent to the laboratory for further examination. Bleeding is usually minimal and controlled using a special solution.
You may experience mild dizziness or drowsiness after receiving the injections for pain. There may be a burning or stinging sensation when the cervix is being prepared. This commonly lasts a few seconds. You may also notice a brownish-black discharge for a few days depending on the material used to control bleeding. There may be mild abdominal cramping and/or mild vaginal bleeding which stops after a few days. Return to normal activity and work is usually possible in a few hours. However, bleeding or discharge may require a sanitary pad. Avoid sex, douching or tampons for 48-72hours.
Test results should be available in a fortnight but this may vary depending on local circumstances. Please inform your doctor if vaginal bleeding persists or worsens, in presence of fever, severe abdominal pain and chills.