What is colposcopy?
Your family doctor may refer you for a Colposcopy if you have a abnormal pap smear test , high risk HPV or abnormal bleeding especially after intercourse .
Colposcopy lets the cervix be examined in more detail through a microscoscope called a colposcope . It can detect problems of the cervix that cannot be seen with the eye alone.
A speculum is inserted into the vagina so that the cervix can be seen. This is similar to having a pap smear. Abnormal cells on the cervix are highlighted( turn white) by applying a small amount of Acetic acid (Vinegar like solution) to the cervix. It may feel a little cold and some women experience some mild stinging when this vinegar solution is applied to your cervix, but it should not hurt or cause pain.
If any areas of abnormal tissue are identified during the colposcopy, a biopsy may need to be performed.
For a biopsy, a small sample of tissue is removed and sent to a laboratory to be studied. It is normal to feel some cramping or discomfort after the biopsy, but this feeling is temporary, although some women may prefer to take some simple pain killers such as Paracetamol or Ibuprofen, which are very effective in relieving this discomfort.
Colposcopies are well tolerated and usually only take 10-15 minutes.
Treatment of cervical changes
Treatment of cervical changes depends on many factors. CIN 1 usually goes away by itself. For this reason, CIN 1 may be monitored with repeat Pap tests. If there is recurrent CIN 1 with high risk HPV changes ,CIN2 or CIN3 treatment is advised .
Techniques used to treat CIN include:
- Large Loop Excision of the Transformation Zone (LLETZ) – A thin wire loop that carries an electric current is used to remove abnormal areas of the cervix. The areas that are removed are sent to a laboratory to be studied.
- Cone biopsy – A cone-shaped wedge of the cervix is removed for study.
These procedures are generally performed under general anaesthetic as a day stay procedure.
Although an abnormal Pap smear results can be very stressful, it is comforting to know that with regular Pap smears, the likelihood of early intervention resulting in cure is reassuringly high.