Understanding What Colposcopy is All About

What is Colposcopy?

  • Colposcopy is a diagnostic procedure done in the doctor’s clinic.
  • It makes use of a colposcope to help a gynaecologist examine and take a closer look at the cervix and vagina area.
  • A colposcope is an instrument that shines light into the vagina and onto the cervix and magnifies what is seen. It is somewhat like a microscope that is used specifically for the woman’s womb.
What is Colposcopy | SMG Women's Health

When Will I Need Colposcopy?

  • The most common reason for a colposcopy is when there is an abnormal pap smear result. Pap smears screen for cervical cancer and pre-cancer changes, so if the results come back indicating that there could be certain cell changes, a further check would be required. This is when the doctor will conduct colposcopy, during which he/she can perform cervical biopsy.
  • Colposcopy can also be done if a woman has persistent bleeding after intercourse, or when her HPV DNA testing is positive for high-risk HPV like Type 16 and Type 18.

Colposcopy cannot be done during your menstruation, the ideal time would be after your menses have ended. Also, if there is an active vaginal infection, it is best to treat the infection before doing a colposcopy.

What Happens during Colposcopy?

The gynaecologist, who is certified and trained, will perform the colposcopy procedure, in the clinic without the need for anaesthesia. He or she will look at your cervical area through the colposcope when you lying down on a treatment chair with your legs propped up.

Acetic acid will then be applied to your cervix to help visualize the area (there might be slight stinging sensation when the acid is applied). This will help the gynaecologist to accurately identify the location for biopsy process.

Colposcopy Procedure | SMG Women's Health

Although the appearance of the cervical area reflected from colposcopy can give an indication of the condition, a biopsy is still essential for a confirmatory diagnosis by the gynaecologist.

Punch biopsy will be conducted, where a small piece of tissue, about 1-2mm, is “punched” out (extracted) in a matter of seconds. It might be slightly painful at the time of extraction, hence the doctor will usually ask the patient to cough at the same time. There are two reasons to that – firstly, it pushes the cervix towards the biopsy forceps and aids in the procedure, secondly, it helps to distract the patient from the pain.


What to Take Note of After Colposcopy?

  • Sometimes, there may be some bleeding after the colposcopy procedure, but it can be easily managed, for example with medication.
  • After the procedure, there may also be some cramping sensation that may last for about 1 hour or so.
  • It is advised not to engage in sexual activity for 2 weeks after the procedure to prevent any trauma to the sensitive area.
  • The biopsy review is usually done after 2 weeks and management of the condition will depend on the results.


Mother holding baby
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