What is a Colposcopy?

A colposcopy is an office procedure whereby a visual examination of the cervix is carried out with a microscope to further investigate an abnormal Cervical Screening Test (CST) result.

When do you need to have a Colposcopy?

There are specific indications for this more detailed examination including the detection of high-grade abnormality or the presence of HPV 16 or HPV 18 on a CST.

What is done during a Colposcopy?

A colposcopy involves placing of a speculum to clearly  visualise the cervix and application of a dilute acetic acid (vinegar) solution to the cervix which turns areas with abnormal cells white. Visual characteristics of the abnormal area after application of acetic acid can indicate the degree of abnormality. A tiny biopsy may be taken from the most affected area to be sent to the pathology lab for more accurate analysis. Taking a tissue sample for biopsy can cause mild pain or discomfort that usually last for only a short time. The site of biopsy can result in light bleeding which is controlled by application of a silver nitrate stick over the site.

What to expect after a Colposcopy?

There can be some blood-stained vaginal discharge for a few days following the procedure. One should avoid sex, tampon use, bathing and swimming for a week to allow the cervix to heal. Follow up arrangement will be made to discuss the biopsy result and further treatment plan.

Helpful Link

Patient information on Cervical Screening in Australia from The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

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