A colposcopy (kol-pos-kuh-pee) involves closely examining your cervix. It is a minor procedure that uses a specialised microscope called a colposcope to look for any abnormal cells in your cervix, vagina, and vulva. Sometimes a colposcopy also involves a biopsy.

Why would you need a colposcopy?

A colposcopy could be recommended by a medical professional if you have:

  • Received abnormal results from a cervical screening test
  • An abnormal lump or growth on your cervix, vagina or vulva
  • Unexplained bleeding, such as after sex

A colposcopy is not used to only look for cervical cancer cells; it can also be used to diagnose genital warts, cervicitis (inflammation of the cervix), and other precancerous changes in the vagina, vulva, and cervix.

Who performs a colposcopy?

Colposcopies are performed by a doctor, usually your specialist.

What does the procedure involve?

Colposcopies are usually performed when you are not menstruating. For 24–48 hours before the procedure, you should avoid:

  • Wearing tampons
  • Having sex
  • Using vaginal medicines
  • Douching

If you have any concerns in preparing for the procedure, contact your doctor.

The procedure is similar to a cervical screening test, and takes about 10–15 minutes. Once you’re comfortable on your back, with your legs up in stirrups, a speculum will be inserted into your vagina. A speculum holds your vagina open so your doctor can examine the area thoroughly. Your vagina may be coated in a solution that helps highlight any abnormal cells. The doctor will look through the colposcope, which looks like a pair of binoculars on a stand with a bright light attached. The colposcope magnifies the cervix and surrounding areas 15–30x.

If the doctor notices anything unusual, or if there are any areas of concern, they might perform a biopsy. A biopsy is when a sample of tissue is collected for laboratory testing. Biopsies are not painful but may cause some discomfort. The sample collected will be sent to the lab, who will run tests and determine any next steps.

What happens after a colposcopy?

You may experience some cramps after the procedure, similar to menstrual cramps, where Paracetamol can be taken to ease the pain. It is also normal to have slight discharge or bleeding for a few days afterwards. If your colposcopy included a biopsy, the bleeding may be heavier or last a little bit longer. If you had a biopsy, there will also be some restrictions on your movement and activities for a few days afterwards; avoid sex, spas, heavy exercise, lubricants, and tampons.

Epworth Freemasons has a dedicated Colposcopy Clinic

After an abnormal cervical screening test, the last thing you want to do is wait months to book in for an appointment. At the Epworth’s dedicated colposcopy clinic, they are able to book you in for a colposcopy within weeks.

Dr Sze Wey Lee, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist and Chair of Obstetrics at Epworth Freemason’s, said that timeliness in booking appointments is very important to the Epworth Colposcopy Clinic.

“The Epworth Colposcopy Clinic provides ready access to colposcopy as we know that the wait to see a specialist can be an anxious time”

Whether you have private health insurance or not, the team is committed to helping. There are no hidden costs: the team will breakdown costs over the phone, and can refer you to other Epworth departments or to a public hospital, should you need further investigation.

For more information on how to book, click here.

Author Lauren Rosenberg