What is a colposcopy?

A colposcopy is a procedure to examine your cervix (neck of your womb) (see figure 1). For some women treatment can be performed at the same time. A colposcopy is usually recommended if a smear test has shown there is a problem with the cells in your cervix.

Are there any alternatives to a colposcopy?

If you have abnormal cells, a colposcopy is the only way of finding out the type of abnormality and how serious the problem is.

What does the procedure involve?

A colposcopy usually takes 10 to 20 minutes.

A colposcopy involves an examination of your cervix. Your gynaecologist can perform biopsies (removing small pieces of tissue) to help make the diagnosis.

If your gynaecologist decides it is best to treat the problem straightaway, they will usually perform a LLETZ (large loop excision of the transformation zone). A LLETZ is a minor operation to remove part of your cervix.

Other treatments include laser treatment, freezing (cryocautery) and using heat (cold coagulation).

What complications can happen?

  • Pain
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Incomplete removal of the abnormal cells

How soon will I recover?

The healthcare team will tell you what was found during the colposcopy and will discuss with you any treatment or follow-up you need.

You should be able to go home the same day.

You should be able to return to work and normal activities the day after your colposcopy.

Regular exercise should improve your long-term health. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

Summary

A colposcopy and LLETZ is usually a safe and effective way of finding and treating any problem with your cervix.

Acknowledgements

Author: Mr Andrew Woods MBBS MRCOG FRANZCOG and Dr Clare Myers MBBS FRANZCOG

Illustrations: Medical Illustration Copyright © Nucleus Medical Art. All rights reserved. www.nucleusinc.com


This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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