Colposcopy Overview

A colposcopy is a common procedure which examines the cervix. It is a simple and straightforward outpatient procedure required after an abnormal smear test. During a colposcopy, the specialist checks the cervix for abnormal cells and the level of abnormal cells, if any,

What happens during a colposcopy?

A gynaecologist accredited by the British Society of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology can perform a colposcopy (BSCCP). The specialist uses a speculum to open the cervix, then examine it under a bright and magnifying light to check for signs of abnormal cell changes. The specialist will apply two dyes – iodine and acetic acid to help highlight the abnormal cells if they are present.

Abnormal cells found during a colposcopy are categorised as low grade (CIN1) and high-grade changes (CIN2-3).

Why do I need a colposcopy?

Aside from being a follow-up assessment for abnormal cells detected during a smear test, you may also get a colposcopy for any of the following reasons.

  • Persistent discharge from the vagina
  • Bleeding after sex
  • Your doctor feels concerned about your cervical appearance

Colposcopy usually lasts for only 5 – 7 minutes and you can either go home or go about tour regular activities.

What does a colposcopy show?

A colposcopy can show a normal cervix, low or high-grade cervical changes. After the procedure, the specialist will explain the type of cells found in your cervix and its implication, then recommend a suitable treatment, if you need one.

Can I undergo a colposcopy during my period?

You can undergo your scheduled colposcopy during your period. Your period will not interfere with your colposcopy, but if you also need to perform a smear test, you may need to reschedule your appointment.

Would I need treatment after a colposcopy?

Getting thetreatment for abnormal cervical cell changes after a colposcopy depends on your symptom and the specialist’s findings. If you have high grade precancerous cervical cell changes, you would need to undergo treatment. Some people with low-grade precancerous cervical cell changes may not need treatment as the treatment for this depends on the patient’s choices and progress after two years. If the patient experiences vaginal bleeding after sex, she may need treatment.

What type of treatment is involved?

A common treatment for abnormal cervical cell changes is LLETZ (large loop excision of transformation zone), also known as LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision procedure). The procedure usually requires local anaesthesia.

After the specialist administers the anaesthesia, he/she would use a wire loop to remove the abnormal cervical cells. The procedure is an easy and quick one. It may cause a little discomfort, but it is not painful.

What is CIN?

CIN is a short term for cervical intra-epithelial Neoplasia. CIN are precancerous cervical epithelial cell changes (the cells lining the neck of your womb). Three types of CIN are known. They include:

  • CIN1
  • CIN2
  • CIN3

These cells are usually present before cervical cancer. CIN3 are usually present for about ten years before cervical cancer. CIN2 and 3 are high-grade cervical cell changes, while CIN1 is a low-grade cell change which can self-resolve without treatment.

You can treat CIN with two ways

  • LLETZ or LEEP
  • Cone biopsy (deeper or extended excision) performed with a needle, laser or knife

When can I get the result of my colposcopy?

You can get your result within ten days. The specialist will contact you and discuss the result of your colposcopy.

Do I need to avoid anything before my colposcopy?

If you are undergoing only a colposcopy, you do not need to avoid anything, but if you also need a biopsy, avoid swimming, bathing or sex for about 3 – 4 days. However, you can shower. You may need to avoid strenuous activities, swimming, sex, taking baths, and using tampons for about four weeks if you require colposcopy and treatment.

Can I swim after my colposcopy?

Yes, you can. You can swim after your colposcopy, but you may need to avoid swimming for a while if you had a treatment or biopsy.

If you had an abnormal smear test result and require a colposcopy for further examination, book a private colposcopy at Gynaecology Clinic. You can call now us on 020 7183 0435 to schedule the appointment for your consultation and colposcopy with an experienced gynaecologist.