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Colposcopy! Is it painful?

December 3, 2020

We’ve heard of tests like Pap smear and Colposcopy, where the doctors or nurses visually examine the vagina and cervix of a woman. It’s time to learn more about colposcopy. Colposcopy is a process by which cell changes or abnormalities are observed in a woman’s cervix, which might potentially turn into cancer cells.

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A colposcopy, in fact, is a cervical cancer test. The doctor or nurse can observe a person’s cervix which is the opening of a woman’s uterus. Cervical cancer cells are generally detected through this process.

Colposcopy and biopsy

  • A person has their pelvic examined in a lying down position.
  • The doctor or nurse inserts a speculum into the female genitals and opens it
  • First, the cervix is washed with a vinegar solution
  • This process makes it easier to observe abnormal cells.
  • After a day’s time a colposcope, an instrument is used to check the problem area is used
  • The colposcope does not touch the insides of the cervix, it is completely gentle
  • If something abnormal is observed a biopsy is done
  • A sample of the tissue is taken and sent to the lab for testing in the process of biopsy

Biopsies are of 2 kinds :

  • The tissue is taken from the outside cervix
  • The tissue is taken from inside the opening of the cervix
  • At times more than one biopsy is needed
  • Biopsies normally take about 5 to 10 minutes

Is colposcopy painful?

  • A colposcopy is a pain-free process.
  • Some pressure might be felt when the Colposcope in inserted  
  • At times there might be a stinging sensation felt during the cervix being washed by the vinegar solution
  • Although, if a biopsy is done there might be some pain or discomfort
  • Most people describe it as feeling a sharp pinch or a period cramp
  • After a few days post-biopsy, some spotting or bleeding or even a dark discharge might be observed

Preparing for a Colposcopy

  • There isn’t much to prepare for a colposcopy.
  • Things to do to make the experience smoother:
  • Scheduling a colposcopy during menstrual flow makes observing the cervix easier
  • Usage of tampons, douching and applying for the medicine inside the female genitalia should be avoided
  • Intercourse should be avoided 24 hours before the colposcopy appointment

Facts regarding Colposcopy

  • Colposcopy helps to observe the female genitalia by magnifying and illuminating the view of the vulva, vaginal walls, and uterine cervix
  • This procedure is carried out in order to evaluate any abnormal occurrence in the cervix or an abnormal occurring as a result of a pap smear test
  • Various kinds of tests are done during the procedure of colposcopy
  • These include acetic acid wash, usage of colour filters, and sampling or biopsy of tissues.
  • Cervical abnormalities include pre-cancer dysplasia
  • These can be rated as mild, moderate, or severe dysplasia and  even cancer
  • The kind of treatment chosen is decided upon the severity of the case
  • The severity of the case is decided by the results of the biopsy

Hence, we come to the conclusion that although Colposcopy is not painful it might be irritating and at times necessary, along with a biopsy that is to be done to absorb any kind of abnormal cell development in the cervix of a woman’s body.

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