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Your health care provider uses colposcopy to view the opening to the uterus, called the cervix, and the vagina. It uses an instrument with a magnifying lens and a light, called a colposcope. It magnifies the image many times. The health care provider sees the tissues on the cervix and vaginal walls more clearly. In some cases, your provider will take a small sample of tissue for exam in the lab. This is called a cervical biopsy.
Your provider may do a coploscopy if he or she finds problems or abnormal cells during a pelvic exam or Pap test. Through the colposcope, the health care provider can see certain changes in cervical and vaginal tissues, such as abnormal blood vessels, tissue structure, color, and patterns. Your provider may call cells that look abnormal, but are not yet cancerous “precancerous.” These abnormal cells may be the first signs of cancer that develops years later.
If your provider sees abnormal tissue during a colposcopy, he or she may take a small sample of tissue for further study. The health care provider may also take tissue samples from inside the cervix.
Your provider may use colposcopy to diagnose and assist in the treatment of:
Your health care provider may have other reasons to recommend colposcopy.
Possible complications of biopsy may include:
If you are allergic to or sensitive to medicines, iodine, or latex, tell your health care provider.
If you are pregnant or think you could be, tell your health care provider.
If possible, schedule your colposcopy about a week after your period.
There may be other risks based on your condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your health care provider before the procedure.
Certain factors or conditions may interfere with a colposcopy. These factors include:
You may have a colposcopy in your health care provider’s office or during a hospital stay. Procedures may vary based on your condition and your health care provider’s practices.
Generally, a colposcopy follows this process:
After a colposcopy procedure, you may rest for a few minutes before going home.
If you have a colposcopy with a biopsy, the recovery process will vary. It will depend on the type of biopsy done and the type of anesthesia (if any) used.
If you have regional or general anesthesia, you will be taken to the recovery room for observation. Once your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing are stable and you are alert, you will be taken to your hospital room or discharged to your home. If you have this procedure on an outpatient basis, plan to have someone drive you home.
You may want to wear a sanitary pad for bleeding. If you have a biopsy, it is normal to have some mild cramping, spotting, and dark or black-colored discharge for several days. The dark discharge is from the medicine applied to your cervix to control bleeding.
If you had a biopsy, do not to douche, use tampons, or have sex for one week after the procedure, or for as long as your health care provider advises.
You may also have other limits on your activity, including no strenuous activity or heavy lifting.
You may go back to your normal diet unless your health care provider tells you otherwise.
Take a pain reliever for cramping or soreness as directed by your health care provider. Aspirin or certain other pain medicines may increase the chance of bleeding. Be sure to take only recommended medicines.
Your health care provider will tell you when to return for further treatment or care. Generally, women who have had a cervical biopsy will need more frequent Pap tests.
Tell your health care provider if you have any of the following:
Your health care provider may give you other instructions after the procedure, depending on your situation.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:
Bayhealth is Southern Delaware’s healthcare leader with hospitals in Dover and in Milford. Bayhealth provides a wide range of medical services, including cardiovascular, cancer, orthopaedics and rehabilitation, pediatrics, respiratory care, sleep care, surgical weight loss and women’s services.