Colposcopy is a medical examination of the cervix performed by a gynecologist in order to detect the source of abnormalities in the cervix from smear result. Colposcopy is a diagnostic procedure where the gynecologist makes use of a colposcope to examine the illuminated and magnified view of the cervical area, the vaginal and vulvar tissues. Many premalignant tumors and malignant tumors in these areas have visible characteristic which can be identified through colposcopic procedure. The enlarged view generated with the help of a colposcope allows the gynecologist to distinguish abnormal tissues from the normal ones and then take biopsy of the affect areas for further examination.
The primary aim of performing colposcopy is to prevent cervical cancer by diagnosing and treating precancerous lesions.
Human papilloma virus or HPV is an infection which spreads through direct sexual contact. Human papilloma virus is a group which consists of over hundred different viruses of which 30 of them cause different types of cancer. Currently, there is no cure for HPV. HPV may be transmitted by having direct skin or sexual contact through oral, vaginal or anal sex with an HPV infected partner. If the person gets an infection, the first signs and symptoms may not be visible immediately. It may take weeks, few months or years to appear, although in some cases the symptoms may not be visible at all.
The symptoms of HPV, if visible appear in the form of growths which appear like cauliflower. These growths are known as genital warts. In some cases, these warts can be flat. These warts are visible on the inside and outside areas of the vagina. The warts may take weeks or years to form after contacting the infection.
An HPV test is performed in order to check if a person is infected with HPV. Usually, the samples of the cells from the cervix are used to identify the types of HPVs present. No test to detect HPV in men is available as of today.
The best way to avoid HPV is to refrain from having sexual relations, however it is a tough thing to do for adults these days. Using protection such as wearing a condom may provide limited protection. However, one must not be under the impression that he/she is not infected from HPV if there are no visible symptoms. Having sexual relations with many partners is a huge risk factor for contracting HPV infection. HPV infection may subside on their own, however high-risk HPV infection may increase the chances of developing abnormalities that may ultimately lead to cervical cancer.
Women who develop abnormal cell changes due to HPV infection may rarely develop a chance of cervical cancer if the abnormal cells are eliminated on time. Cervical cancer is developed due to many other reasons such as having too many children, smoking and other activities which lead to cancer.