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FAQ – Colposcopy

Read more about about colposcopy

A colposcopy is a procedure where the lining of the cervix (the neck of the womb) is closely examined. It is carried out by a colposcopist (a specially trained doctor or nurse) who uses a magnifying instrument called a colposcope to check the cells that line the cervix for abnormalities

You may be asked to have a colposcopy if you have had a cervical smear test that showed abnormal cells, or if your cervix looked abnormal to the gyneacologist. 

An abnormal cervical smear test result usually means that changes have been found in the cells of your cervix. Abnormal cells found during cervical screening can be pre-cancerous. This doesn’t mean you have cervical cancer. It means that some of the cells are a little abnormal and if left untreated, they could develop into cervical cancer in the future.

You may be  recommended to have a colposcopy if you have symptoms such as bleeding in between periods or after sex, blood-stained vaginal discharge or pain in your pelvis. A colposcopy can help to show whether your symptoms are due to cervical cancer, or if they may be caused by something else.

In a colposcopy, our gynaecologist will use an instrument called a colposcope to examine your cervix. A colposcope acts like a magnifying glass, which helps your doctor or nurse to see the cells of your cervix in detail and close up.

You may also have a small biopsy taken during a colposcopy. This means removing a sample of cells from your cervix. Depending on the results, our gynaecologist may also be able to treat you during the colposcopy.

What are the alternatives to a Colposcopy ?

If the cells on your cervix can’t be seen properly with a colposcope, then our gynaecologist may suggest other tests. The main alternatives are listed below.

  • A cone biopsy. A small, cone-shaped section of abnormal tissue is taken from your cervix and is examined under a microscope. This is usually done under local anaesthetic.
  • Large loop excision of the transformation zone (LLETZ). A wire loop with an electric current is used to remove abnormal areas of tissue. These are then sent to a laboratory to be checked.

How do I prepare for a Colposcopy?

A colposcopy is done at the London Medical and Aesthetic clinic. This means you have the test and go home the same day.

What to expect afterwards?

After the appointment at the London Medical and Aesthetic Clinic you can go home when you feel ready If you have a biopsy taken, you may have some bleeding from your vagina after the procedure. For this reason it’s a good idea to bring a sanitary towel with you on the day of your colposcopy.

If you have a local anaesthetic, you may have some period-like pains as the anaesthetic wears off. If you need pain relief, you can take over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. Always read the patient information that comes with your medicine and if you have any questions, ask your pharmacist for advice.

Possible risks of a Colposcopy

As with every procedure, there are some risks associated with colposcopy. We have not included the chance of these happening as they are specific to you and differ for every person. Ask your doctor to explain how these risks apply to you.

These are the unwanted but mostly temporary effects you may get after having the procedure.

Having a colposcopy may be uncomfortable because you need to lie in a certain position for the procedure. It’s not usually painful, but you may feel some discomfort if you have a biopsy taken.

If you have a biopsy or treatment under local anaesthesia, you may have some period-like cramps as the anaesthetic wears off. You may also have some blood-stained vaginal discharge similar to a light period. This usually clears up after about two weeks, but can sometimes last for up to six weeks. You may need to wear a sanitary towel during this time. If you’re bleeding heavily or the bleeding gets worse, see your GP or contact the colposcopy clinic for advice.

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