What is colposcopy?

Colposcopy is a simple and painless procedure that allows your gynaecologist to examine the cervix with a microscope. No part of the microscope itself enters the vagina. It usually follows the finding of an abnormal smear result.

How is the colposcopy performed ?

A speculum is inserted into the vagina and solutions are applied to the cervix to highlight the abnormal areas. Tiny biopsies may then be taken, which are then sent for analysis to the laboratory. If moderate or severe changes are found, you may need treatment, which is usually done as an outpatient.

What is the advice after a colposcopy?

It is recommended that you do not have sex for 3-4 days after a colposcopy, and you may have some bleeding or discharge for a few days.

What is loop diathermy or Large loop excision of transformation zone?

Loop diathermy is a method to remove an area of abnormal cells from the cervix.

The cervix is numbed with local anaesthetic, and the loop removes the abnormal cells, which are sent to a laboratory for microscopic examination.

The anaesthetic ensures that the procedure is painless, and treatment is successful in 95% of women. The remaining 5% may need further treatment.

You should not have sex or use tampons for 4 weeks after a treatment; you may bleed for up to 4 weeks, and you should not do any excessive exercise for the first 10 days.

What is HPV?

When taking cervical smears we may check for infection with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is responsible for most cases cervical cancer.

There are over 100 different types of virus:

         -Some infect the skin and can cause warts or verrucas

         -Some infect the genital area and cause genital warts

         -Some infect the genital area and can cause cell changes in the cervix, which

         very rarely may progress to cancer

Most women will contract a HPV infection some time during their lives and will clear the infection without ever knowing they had it. The vast majority of women with HPV infection will not develop cancer.

A small proportion of infected women will develop abnormal cervical cells, which are identified on a cervical smear; only a very small proportion of these women would develop cervical cancer if untreated.

However this process is believed to take upwards of 10 years and will occur only if the virus is not cleared during this time.

If you have persistent HPV infection, you should have regular cervical smear tests (at 6-12 monthly intervals) to ensure that any abnormal cells are identified and treated.