What is a colposcopy procedure?

If you’ve been advised you need a colposcopy you may be anxious and wondering what the procedure entails. A colposcopy is a fairly simple procedure which enables specialists to examine your cervix, which is the bottom area of the uterus located at the top of the vaginal passage.

When is a colposcopy recommended?

Very often, colposcopies are advised if abnormal cells are discovered during regular smear testing. It’s often the case that these abnormal cells go away on their own, but a colposcopy examination is recommended in order to ensure there’s no risk that the cells could develop into cervical cancer.

Your procedure will provide confirmation on whether the cells actually are abnormal, and also help clinicians make decisions on whether any further treatment will be needed.

The reasons for a colposcopy include:

– if some cells tested when you were screened seemed abnormal
– if after several screening tests, the relevant clinician felt your cervix had an unhealthy appearance and the results were unclear

You may also be referred for colposcopy if you experience vaginal bleeding, for example after sexual intercourse.

What happens in the colposcopy?

This procedure usually only takes around 20 minutes and you won’t need an overnight stay. The procedure involves:

– undressing from the waist down and lying back in a chair which has padded supports for your open legs
– like in the smear test procedure, a speculum is put inside your vagina to open it up
– a microscope with light is used to inspect your cervix, however, this does not enter your body at all
– if abnormal areas are identified, liquids are applied to highlight them further
– a biopsy may be taken at this time, and this will be sent to the lab for examination

Sometimes, immediate treatment is offered to remove abnormal cells, however, when in doubt clinicians will always wait until biopsy results are returned.

Dr Tania Adib is a London based clinician and offers specialist colposcopy services on a private basis. She is the Lead Clinician for both colposcopy and Gynaecological Oncology at Queens Hospital. If you’re on a waiting list for a colposcopy procedure, and would like to opt for the specialist professional services of Dr Adib, please don’t hesitate to get in touch for more information.