A colposcopy is a procedure that offers a detailed examination of the cervix, using a special microscope called a colposcope. The colposcope allows a magnified view of the cervix, vulva and vagina. It is usually a short, outpatient procedure.
Why is a colposcopy performed?
Colposcopy is most commonly used to examine the cervix following an abnormal smear. Dr Tshikosi will perform a colposcopy if he has concerns about the appearance of your cervix, or you have abnormal symptoms, such as bleeding between periods or after intercourse.
Firstly, you will have a consultation with Dr Tshikosi, and he will take a detailed history of your health. He will then explain the procedure and answer any questions you may have.
Colposcopy is similar to a smear test performed, in that a speculum is used to see the cervix. Dr Tshikosi first applies a dilute solution of acetic acid to the cervix to show up abnormal areas on the cervix. The vagina and cervix are inspected with the colposcope. Dr Tshikosi may take a biopsy of any abnormal areas for the laboratory to test. A colposcopy doesn’t usually cause pain, but it may feel uncomfortable. The whole procedure takes only about 5 minutes.
Results of the colposcopy
The results of the exam will show if there are abnormal cells present, and to what extent. When abnormal cells are found, these are categorised according to their severity. Mild abnormal cell changes often return to normal without treatment. Moderate or severe abnormal cell changes don’t indicate cancer, but there’s a higher risk they may become cancerous if treatment isn’t carried out.
Treatment for abnormalities
During treatment, Dr Tshikosi removes the area of abnormal cells on the cervix. He does this with a heated wire loop called a loop cone biopsy. The procedure is usually performed in the clinic under a local anaesthetic and takes a matter of minutes.
Recovering from a colposcopy
You may experience a little bleeding and discharge after the colposcopy. If you’ve had treatment, bleeding can last up to 4 weeks. You should avoid using sexual intercourse, tampons, and swimming for about a month following treatment. You will need to have regular follow-up screenings to check if the abnormal cells have all gone.