What is a colposcopy?
A Colposcopy is an examination of your cervix with a colposcope. This instrument looks like a pair of binoculars on a stand, providing a magnified view of your cervix.
What happens during the procedure?
To have the colposcopy test, you will be asked to lie on an examination bed with your legs supported in a similar position to when you have a Cervical Screening Test. Like the Cervical Screening Test, the specialist will insert a speculum into your vagina. The examination usually starts with a repeat cervical screening test, then a special liquid is placed onto your cervix to highlight any abnormal areas. The doctor will then look through the colposcope to carefully examine your cervix. Please note that the colposcope itself does not enter the body.
If any areas of your cervix appear abnormal during the colposcopy, a small sample of tissue (a biopsy) may be taken. This sample will be sent to a laboratory for testing.
This examination usually takes 15 minutes and most people do not experience any pain however you may have some discomfort from having the speculum inside your vagina or having the biopsy taken.
Why has it been recommended for me?
One of the most common reasons that a colposcopy will be recommended is after a positive Cervical Screening Test for HPV (Human Papilloma Virus). There are many types of HPV infection and most are cleared naturally by the body’s immune system. However, in some cases they are not cleared by the body and can cause abnormal cervical cell changes. Please note that this does not mean you have developed cancer – it takes about 10 years for cervical cancer to develop after an HPV infection and cervical cancer is a rare outcome.
Other indications for recommending a colposcopy is if you have abnormal bleeding or have post coital bleeding.
How do I prepare for a colposcopy?
We recommend taking 2 paracetamol 500mg tablets, and/or 1-2 anti-inflammatory tablets (e.g. Nurofen, Voltaren, Ponstan, Indocid) an hour prior to the procedure to reduce any potential discomfort.
After the colposcopy
Most women return to normal activities (including work) after the procedure although it is recommended that you refrain from vigorous exercise, swimming, bathing, spas and intercourse for 24-48 hours. These precautions reduce your risk of bleeding and infection. You may have some discharge and spotting for a few hours afterwards which we will provide a sanitary pad for after the biopsy. Please report any heavy bleeding or pain that is not settling with simple painkillers.
It may take up to two weeks for the results of your biopsy to return and we will contact you when they do. You will receive a letter which is sent to you and your family doctor with future recommendations. Depending on the results, you will also receive an SMS, an email or a telephone call.
The charge for this procedure and consult is between $400 and $450. There may also be an out of pocket cost for pathology taken at this time, which is invoiced separately by the pathology company.