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Colposcopy

Colposcopy

The physical examination of the cervix can happen with palpation and colposcopy, a special device that is equipped with a light source and a microscope to magnify cervical tissue and detect changes that may indicate cervical cancer or other abnormal growths. Besides visualizing inner surfaces, colposcopy also serves to take biopsy if abnormal tissue is found.

Colposcopy is recommended if you have symptoms of cervical cancer (bleeding after sex, alarming Pap smear test) or any pain and irritation in the cervix and vagina.

The Colposcopy Procedure

The colposcopy procedure takes around 15 minutes including the biopsy if needed. You basically have to do the same as during a normal gynecologic examination. You are asked to lie on your back and place your legs in the stirrups.

The doctor will insert a special instrument called spectulum into your vagina, which has rounded, smooth blades. Once the spectulum is inside the vagina, the blades gently spread, allowing space and better vision around the cervix.

With the help of the colposcope linked to the spectulum, the gynecologist inspects the cervix and vagina and also takes photos or videos of them. The colposcope itself does not touch you during the exam but is moved close to your vagina.

If any abnormal looking areas are found, cervical biopsy is taken during colposcopy for further pathologic analysis.

The colposcoscopy procedure may cause some inconveniences, especially when the spectulum is placed and the tissue samples are taken. You may experience light pain or cramping and slight bleeding, but they will not last long.  

How to Interpret Colposcopy Results?

After physical colpsocopy inspection the doctor is usually able to see if there is any abnormality that needs further testing (polyps, white areas on the cervix or warts). If tissues are sent for pathologic examination, it may take 1-2 weeks to get the results.

If colposcopy results show the abnormality of the biopsy you may have:

  • Cervical warts caused by human papilloma virus
  • Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (cell changes that can result in cancer)
  • Cervical cancer