Colposcopy is a medical procedure wherein a gynecologist examines a woman’s cervix and vagina for diagnosing abnormal activities in the cervical and vaginal area. Colposcopy is performed when the test results of Pap smear appear abnormal. Pap smear is a screening method which helps recognize potential problems and not for diagnosing them. In order to determine the disorder that created abnormal Pap smear results, the gynecologist has to take a closer look at the cervix. Therefore, to perform this medical examination, the gynecologist uses colposcopy using an equipment known as colposcope
The patient does not need to spend more than 15 minutes while giving colposcopy examination. The procedure is not very painful. Just like the Pap smear test, the patient is positioned on the medical examination table. The gynecologist will gently wipe acetic acid on the cervix and then look through the colposcope. The colposcope is positioned approximately 30 cm away from the vagina. The acetic acid on the vagina will turn the abnormal cells white thus making it easier to diagnose any problems. In case there are no white cells, there is nothing to be worried about. If there are visible white cells in the diagnosed area, the gynecologist may take a closer look at it by applying iodine solution which makes the normal cells turn brown.
Usually, colposcopy does not possess any side effects as it is a safe medical procedure. However, patients may experience some side effects after the examination. The effects do not last for a long time though. In case the patient undergoes the procedure under local anesthesia or biopsy, it may be possible that the patient experience cramps once the effect of anesthesia subsides. These cramps may resemble the monthly periods. There may also be a small amount of vaginal discharge or bleeding after colposcopy. The side effects may go away within 2 to 6 weeks. The patients are suggested that they carry sanitary towels on the day of their examination so as to avoid unwanted situation.
As far as the colposcopy risks are concerned, problems may arise during or after the procedure. Only a few women are affected by this test. Heavy bleeding may follow post colposcopy and in some cases the bleeding may get heavier than the ones in the monthly periods. A rare side effect of colposcopy is infection of the area of biopsy. High fever may follow along with heavy bleeding and vaginal discharge with a foul smell.
In order to prevent further side effects, patients are advised to abstain from sexual activities and follow medical routine as advised by the gynecologist. These side effects are rare and may occur in some women only. If they do occur, the same should be reported to the doctor.