An affiliate of Hera Women's Health

What Is a Colposcopy and Why Would I Need One?

Women’s Health Associates of Southern Nevada are there to help you.

You’ve always done everything you’re supposed to when it comes to your health. You eat your veggies. You get your yearly physical and your annual gynecological exam. So, it almost feels like a betrayal when you get the call saying there might be something wrong and you need to come in for a colposcopy.

Not to worry. The team at Women’s Health Associates of Southern Nevada is there to put your mind at ease. We have eight doctors who specialize in the issues surrounding a colposcopy, and we’re there to walk you through the process and help you achieve your best health.

Why you might need a colposcopy

Among the many reasons why you might need a colposcopy is that you had an abnormal Pap smear results.

You’ve likely had a Pap smear, also called a Pap test, and you know the drill. During your gynecological exam, our doctors swab the cervix at the top of your vagina to get a small sample of cells. If the lab finds some abnormal cells, you’re called back into the office for a colposcopy.

You also might need a colposcopy is if we detect the human papillomavirus. HPV can mask other symptoms and may lead to cervical cancer.

Finally, if we suspect there is something wrong with your cervix, perhaps it feels abnormal or appears weak, a colposcopy allows us to get a good look at your cervix without any type of surgery.

The colposcope and how it is used

A colposcopy is any procedure that uses a colposcope. This is a special type of microscope that gives us a magnified look at the skin inside the vagina, all the way up to the cervix. The device is small, and it fits between the legs of the woman to be examined.

Our doctors use a speculum to open the vagina as is done for a Pap smear. A colposcope has a bright light that illuminates the inside of your body, giving us a good view of the tissue involved.

The colposcope has two eyepieces, very similar to what you would see on any other type of microscope. We can move the device to change the view without ever touching your body.

The tests a doctor might perform with a colposcope

In addition to looking at the tissue, the colposcope allows us to perform some tests that wouldn’t be possible any other way. For example, if we need to take a biopsy of any tissue from the vulva, vagina or cervix, we can choose the tissue that might look abnormal, rather than simply testing a random sample.

Another option is to bathe any suspicious-looking tissue with certain chemicals that would highlight the presence of abnormal cells. If any appear, we may take a small sample for the lab to test.

After your colposcopy

Many women have no pain or discomfort from the procedure. If we take a biopsy, you may have a little bleeding or a dark discharge for a day or so. We can advise you about taking over-the-counter pain medication for comfort.

But most of all, try not to worry. A colposcopy is a great way to rule out any serious issue. If there is a problem, our doctors at the Women’s Health Associates of Southern Nevada are there to help you. We talk to you about any abnormal findings, and together we create a path back to wellness.

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