What is a colposcopy and do I need one?

Many women have heard the term ‘colposcopy’ but are unsure as to what it means, and why they may need one. Below we explain the colposcopy procedure and why you may need one.

What is a colposcopy?

This is a medical procedure that is carried out to view the walls of the cervix, which is the neck of the womb. This enables sample cells to be taken and analysed. A colposcopy is a simple medical procedure that is often required after a cervical smear test which has found abnormal cells. The colposcopy will determine if the cells are abnormal.

Why you may need a colposcopy

Most women will be advised that they need a colposcopy following a smear test that has flagged up the possibility of abnormal cells. Sometimes if the person performing the smear test feels that the cervix does not look healthy, then you will be referred for a colposcopy for further investigation. Sometimes you may be referred for a colposcopy because of irregular or heavy vaginal bleeding.

What will happen?

Firstly, do not be anxious about this procedure. Abnormal cells do not necessarily mean that they will grow to be cancerous. But, they do need to be investigated. Colposcopy is a short and simple procedure that takes around 20 minutes, with no need to stay in the hospital. You will be seated with legs placed in padded supports. Just like having a smear test, a speculum will be gently inserted into your vagina. A lighted microscope will then be inserted to view the cervix. If abnormal cells are seen, then a tissue sample, biopsy, will be taken. Although this will not hurt, it may feel a little uncomfortable.

What do the results mean?

Sometimes it is possible to tell if there are any abnormal cells. If you have a biopsy then it will be several weeks before you get any results. If you are told that cells are abnormal, then you will hear the term CIN, followed by a number. The higher the number, the higher the chance that the cells may turn cancerous.

If you are searching for a female gynaecologist in London who performs the colposcopy, then please do get in touch with Dr Tania Adib Gynaecology today.