Jean Hailes for Women’s Health Colposcopy Service
What is a Colposcopy?
A colposcopy is a close examination of a woman’s cervix using a special microscope called a colposcope. You may be referred for a colposcopy after an abnormal Pap smear, or due to symptoms such as bleeding from the cervix. The colposcope looks like a pair of binoculars on a stand and allows the Gynaecologist to have a magnified view of the cervix to check the extent and nature of any abnormal cells. At no time does the colposcope enter the body.
Abnormal Pap Smear Result & Colposcopy
What an abnormal result means. An abnormal Pap test result means that some of the cells of the cervix are different from normal cells. This can be a low-grade or high-grade change.
For most low-grade changes, more frequent Pap tests are all that is needed for a period of time, however, if low-grade changes persist or if a high-grade abnormality was reported, an examination called a colposcopy will be needed.
What happens during a Colposcopy?
At Jean Hailes our female Gynaecologist has many years of experience and has been accredited by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetrics & Gynaecology. Before the colposcopy she will talk with you to make sure you know what is going to happen.
During the colposcopy a speculum will be inserted into the vagina much like during a Pap test. A solution will then be used to paint your cervix that will highlight any abnormal areas. The Gynaecologist will then look through the colposcope to carefully examine the cervix and will be able to see the location and pattern of any abnormal cells.
How can I prepare for a Colposcopy?
A colposcopy cannot be performed while you are having your period. The entire examination takes about 15-20 minutes. Try to relax during the examination. Our Gynaecologist will talk to you about what is happening and what is found during the examination.
Is it painful?
Most women do not experience any pain, although you may have some discomfort from having the speculum inside your vagina for this length of time. If a biopsy sample is required, you may feel slight cramps or pinching when the tissue is removed.
During the colposcopy a small sample of tissue from the area where the abnormal cells are (a biopsy) may be taken and sent to a laboratory for testing. It can take up to two weeks for the result to come back. Arrangements should be made for you to discuss the results when they are available and to find out if treatment is required.
It is normal to have a little spotting for at least two days after a colposcopy, especially if you have also had a biopsy. It is a good idea to bring a sanitary pad with you to the consultation.
Tampons are not suitable for 2-3 days following a colposcopy. You should also avoid vaginal intercourse, swimming, bathing and spas during this time, but showers are OK.
Colposcopy & Biopsy
Tampons are not suitable for 2 weeks following a biopsy. For the same period of time you should also avoid vaginal intercourse, swimming, bathing and spas, but showers are OK.
These precautions are aimed at reducing the risk of increased bleeding or infection.
Is there anything else I should know?
Yes. If you are allergic to iodine you need to let the Gynaecologist know before your procedure. You will also need to advise if you are or may be pregnant.
For more information on the Jean Hailes Colposcopy Service please call the clinic on (03) 9562 7555.
Queensland Cervical Screening Program
Marie Stopes International
PapScreen Victoria – Abnormal Pap Test booklet
Content updated 18 June 2012