E F Nigel Holland
Consultant Gynaecologist and Obstetrician
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What is a Colposcopy?

A colposcopy is an examination of the cervix (neck of womb) using a colposcope. This is an instrument which magnifies the area being examined. It allows me to look look more closely at the cervix. It is like an elaborate smear test.

Why do you need a Colposcopy?

  • You have had abnormal bleeding after intercourse (post-coital bleeding).
  • The neck of the womb looks abnormal.
  • Your cervical smear has shown evidence of abnormal cells (dyskaryosis, dysplasia, cervical intraepithelial neoplasia CIN).
  • Less commonly there are abnormal cells on the vulva (VIN) or vaginal walls (VAIN).

Abnormal smear results are a common finding and are rarely serious. However, it is essential you attend for a colposcopy to examine you and to decide if you need further treatment.

How long does it take?

The procedure will take approximately ten to fifteen minutes.

Should you do anything before your appointment?

It is important that you know the date of the first day of your last menstrual period.
If you are having a period on the day of your appointment we will not be able to examine you. It may be necessary to re-arrange your appointment.

What happens during your Colposcopy?

You will be asked to lie down on a specially designed couch in a similar position to having a smear test taken.
I look through the colposcope to see and examine your cervix. Special solutions are used which will stain your cervix and show where your abnormalities are.
(Again this is similar to a smear test).

If the abnormalities can be treated in the clinic the following procedures can be performed.

- Taking a biopsy (a sample of tissue about the size of a pinhead from the cervix). The biopsy is sent for analysis under a microscope. When the results are available I will see you to discuss the results of the biopsy usually the following week after it has been processed.
After your biopsy you will have a blood stained discharge for approximately five days. To help the cervix to heal you are advised to use sanitary towels and not tampons, not to have intercourse or do any strenuous exercise for two weeks following the biopsy.

- Removal of the affected area.
The abnormal cells on the cervix are removed using a procedure called a large loop excision of the transformation zone (LLETZ). It takes approximately ten to fifteen minutes to complete and a local anaesthetic is usually given before the start of the procedure.

This procedure can also be done under general anaesthetic as a day case (not the same day as your clinic appointent). The area removed takes approximately 4 weeks to heal. During this time do not tampons, have intercourse or do any stenuous exercise. You can also expect to have some blood loss. If this becomes heavy or has an offensive smell you are advised to contact us or your GP for advice. For the first two to three day; after the procedure you may experience period type pains. These should be relieved with mild painkillers. A further appointment will arranged for you to attend the clinic with results, then follow-up arranged thereafter.

Will it hurt?

Some women may find that the procedures can be uncomfortable but not painful. Pain relief is always offered if needed. It is advisable that someone accompanies you to the clinic as some women may feel slightly light-headed immediately following the procedure.

Please do not worry about your visit to the colposcopy clinic. I will explain everything before and during the procedure. Every effort will be made to ensure that there is minimum discomfort and maximum privacy.

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to ask them.

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