What is colposcopy?
Colposcopy is an examination of the cervix using a special microscope called a colposcope. The microscope allows the doctor to see the cervix and other areas in detail. Dr Sillender can find abnormal areas and take samples if needed.
Why do I need a colposcopy test?
You may have been referred for the test for any of the following reasons
- an abnormal Pap test result
- an abnormal area appearing on the cervix, vagina or vulva
- bleeding from the cervix
Dr Sillender will discuss with you why you are being referred.
What does having an abnormal Pap smear test result mean?
When the pathologist in the lab viewed your test on a slide he/she saw cells that looked “different” from normal cells. An abnormal test result may indicate the presence of
- HPV (Human Papillomavirus)
- low- or high-grade dysplasia(pre-cancer changes)
- bacterial infection
- normal inflammation
Does this mean I have cancer of the cervix?
No. An abnormal Pap test result or referral for a colposcopy examination does not mean you have cancer.
Very few women with abnormal smear test results have cancer. A smear test helps detect abnormal cell changes before cancer develops.
How is a colposcopy done?
It is very similar to the Pap smear test. We place a speculum into the vagina to look at the cervix. A smear may be taken. A solution is applied to the cervix and vagina. You may feel a tingling sensation. Any abnormal areas turn white. Dr Sillender looks at the cervix through the colposcope – the colposcope does not enter your body. This usually takes about 10 minutes.
Tip: Empty your bladder just before the test – you’ll feel less pressure.
Will a biopsy be done?
If any abnormal areas are seen, a biopsy or small tissue sample will be taken. You may feel a pinch when the biopsy is taken or you may not feel any discomfort. Silver is applied to the biopsy site to help stop any bleeding.
What happens after a biopsy?
- You may have mild abdominal cramping
- Use ibuprofen or panadeine before your appointment to prevent this discomfort
- You may have a small amount of bleeding or dark coloured discharge. This may last a few days. The nurse will give you a sanitary pad.
- You can bathe, shower, and resume yourusual activities
- You should avoid intercourse for a few days at least
If you have any problems, call the PEARL office or ring Attadale hospital out of hours.
Will I need treatment?
You may or may not need treatment based on your colposcopy and test results. Dr Sillender will recommend the best treatment for you. Treatments are often arranged within 2-3 weeks of your visit.
Commonly used management plans include: observation with more regular PAP smears or LLETZ. Most treatments can be done awake, but general anaesthesia is available.
If you have genital warts or polyps they may be treated on this first visit.
Your colposcopy test results
Dr Sillender may discuss the colposcopy findings with you immediately after the test. In other cases a follow-up visit may be arranged to discuss your test results and possible treatment. A follow-up appointment may or may not be needed. If recommended, it is important to keep all follow-up visits.
Dr Sillender will send a letter to your GP or sexual health specialist about your findings and follow-up care. If you have any questions or concerns, please call us for more information.
Can I come for colposcopy if I am menstruating?
Yes, if your flow is not too heavy and you are comfortable coming for your test. You may wish to rebook your appointment. Please call us to rebook if needed.
Should I have a colposcopy examination if I am pregnant?
If you are pregnant, keep your appointment. Observation is usually all that is needed. Treatments are usually done 6 weeks after the birth.
Why is there a screen in your examination room?
Our colposcope is state of the art and is equipped with a video camera and TV monitor. You can see on the monitor what we are seeing through the colposcope. This may give you a better understanding of what is happening. Many of our patients choose not to watch the monitor!
Will there be more than one person in the room?
There will be a nurse in the room to assist.