Colposcopy is a medical diagnosis that examines the cervix. It uses a colposcope,which is a special type of microscope for this process to look closely at your cervix. This procedure does not take too much time; it can be done between 15 to 20 minutes.
A sample of tissue or cell might be taken from the cervix for a biopsy to examine the condition of your cervix better. Taking tissue or cell sample (biopsy) from the cervix can be uncomfortable sometimes, and it can cause a little bleeding. To heal the cervix faster, you may need to stay away from penetrative sex, use tampons or go swimming for a few days.
The process of colposcopy uses a microscope called colposcope to examine your cervix. For your doctor to run this diagnosis successfully, you will be required to undress at least from your waist down and lie on your back on an examination couch with your knees bent and apart. Some examination couch has foot or leg supports where you can rest your legs on.
The doctor will make use of an instrument called a speculum to hold the vagina open so that he or she will have a clear view of your cervix. He or she will put the liquid on the cervix to show any abnormal areas and then shine a light onto the cervix so that he can observe it through the colposcope. The colposcope is placed on a stand between your legs or feet through which the doctor observes your cervix.
A small sample of the cellwill also be taken from the cervix, which will be sent to a laboratory for examination.
A colposcopy can last for about 20 minutes. You will experience slight pain and discomfort, especially when taking a biopsy.You may experience slight vaginal bleeding as a result of a biopsy, which can last up to two weeks. You might be advised by your doctor to stay away from penetrative sex, ask you to use tampons or go swimming for a few days after a biopsy to give your cervix time to heal and to reduce the risk of further infection.
A colposcopy helps to diagnose the abnormal areas of the cervix and the grade of these abnormal cells.When your doctor diagnose that cells are very abnormal such as CIN 2 and 3 cell grades, he may offer you treatment to remove these cells immediately to prevent further complications such as cervical cancer.
You will be well informed by the doctor before any treatment, and you will be given time to make decisions. Youshould feel free to ask questions if you are confused in any area. Don’t make any decision in a hurry, you can ask for more time, the treatment can always be done another day.
Very abnormal cellsshould be treated to prevent the risk of cancer developing. Some abnormal cells like the CIN 1 might not have serious changes, and they can return to normal even if they are not treated.You can carry out colposcopy several times to see if there is an improvement. A small sample (biopsy) of the cells can be taken for examination under a more powerful microscope to check; treatment may be required if there is no improvement after several biopsies or colposcopy.
On the other hand, Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) are abnormal cells found during colposcopy. It is graded as CIN1-3 based on the depth into the surface of the cervix:
CIN 1 cells can always return to normal without any treatment. Further colposcopy or screening test will be carried out to check if there is an improvement on the cells. Treatment may be needed if there is no improvement in CIN 1 cells after a number of colposcopy or screening tests.
CIN 2 and 3 cells should be treated well because they have a higher risk of developing into cervical cancer.