When to call your health care provider?
- Heavy vaginal bleeding (using more than one maxi pad per hour)
- Severe lower abdominal pain
What is Colposcopy?
A screening Pap smear, which returns an abnormal result, may, in some cases prompt the scheduling of a Colposcopic exam of the cervix and / or vaginal tissues.
During a colposcopy exam, a speculum will be inserted as it is for a regular gynecological exam. A diluted vinegar solution is placed on the cervix in order to allow a clear view of the cervix. This solution washes away mucus from the cervix and allows any abnormal cells to be more clearly visible during the exam. The cervix is visualized with the use of a Colposcope, (a magnifying instrument) placed outside the vagina, allowing the physician a view of possible sources of abnormal cells.
If possible, sources of abnormal cells are identified on the cervix or vaginal tissues, small biopsies of these areas may be performed. A small instrument may also be used to sample the tissue of the endocervical canal (the opening in the cervix) in order to ensure that abnormal cells are not found in an area not clearly visible with the Colposcope. All samples obtained are then sent to a pathology laboratory and examined by a pathologist.
What should I expect during and/or after a colposcopy?
You may have some vaginal bleeding. You also may have a dark discharge for a few days. This may occur from medication used to help stop the bleeding at the biopsy site. While your cervix heals you will be instructed not to put anything into your vagina for a short time (no intercourse, no tampons, no douching). Depending upon the results of a colposcopy your physician will recommend observation with a repeat Pap smear, medication or minor surgery called a LEEP or Conization.