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Colposcopy

A Colposcopy is an examination that uses a special microscope (called a colposcope) to look into the vagina and to look very closely at the cervix (the opening to the uterus, or womb).

The colposcope magnifies, or enlarges, the image of the cervix.  This allows the doctor to see the cervix very clearly. Sometimes a small sample of tissue (called a biopsy) is taken and sent away to pathologists for further study. The tissue samples help the doctor to figure out how to treat any problems found.  If cancer of the cervix is found early, or a precancerous change of cells is found, it can be treated and almost always can be cured. Also, for precancers and early cancers of the cervix, sometimes removal of part of the cervix may be the only treatment needed.

A Colposcopy is usually done when a woman has an abnormal pap smear.  Pap smears should be done on a regular basis (every 2 years generally) to screen for cancer of the cervix and other abnormalities.  Other reasons a woman may need a colposcopy is when, during a pelvic exam, the cervix, vagina, or vulva look abnormal to the doctor.

When you have a colposcopy, you will lie on an exam table just like you do when you have a regular pelvic exam. The doctor uses an instrument called a speculum to spread the walls of the vagina apart. The colposcope does not enter the vagina. The doctor will look inside the vagina to locate any problem areas on the cervix or in the vagina. If any areas are of concern, the doctor may take a small tissue sample (a biopsy). When this is done you may feel a slight pinch or cramp. The tissue is then sent to a lab for further study.

After the procedure, Dr Li will discuss what she saw inside your vagina and cervix.  If a sample of tissue was taken from your cervix (biopsy), the lab results should be ready in 1 to 2 days.

Most women feel fine after a colposcopy. You may feel a little lightheaded and if you had a biopsy, and you may have some light bleeding.  Dr Li will discuss post procedure care with you, and advise you of when to return for a review.  

There is a very small risk of infection when you have a colposcopy.  You may have mild pain and cramping during the procedure and a small amount of bleeding afterwards.  This generally happens when a biopsy has been taken.  If you experience heavy bleeding, a fever, or severe pain after the procedure, you should contact Dr Li right away.