Colposcopy is a diagnostic procedure that a doctor can perform in order to examine the vagina, vulva, and cervix for growth, cell changes, and inflammation. A colposcope is an illuminated magnifying instrument that is used to reach problematic areas and provide a better view. A colposcopy may be needed to check your symptoms or for evaluation after abnormal Pap smear. With the help of a colposcope, your doctor is able to examine lesions or abnormalities more thoroughly. Your doctor can also take a sample of tissue for biopsy during this procedure.

How to prepare for the procedure?
If you need a colposcopy procedure, your doctor will determine the optimal time when you have no menstruation because it can change the way the cervix appears and the blood can prevent optimal observation. You also shouldn't insert anything into the vagina at least one day before the procedure. This means that you have to refrain from sexual intercourse, vaginal creams, douching and using tampons. You also need to tell your doctor if you are taking any blood thinners such as aspirin or warfarin.

How is colposcopy performed?
The procedure starts when the doctor places a speculum into your vagina to see the cervix. The doctor then cleanses your cervix with saline using a cotton swab or a spray bottle. As a rule, your doctor also places a diluted solution of acetic acid on the cervix to distinguish normal and abnormal areas.

Then the colposcope will be located next to your vaginal opening so the light will fall on the vagina and cervix. Enlarged blood vessels, bleeding, or other abnormal conditions are usually visible with the help of a colposcope. White areas on the cervix can signal changes in the cervix. Your doctor can also insert Lugol's solution, which consists of iodine and potassium iodide. The normal tissue of the cervix looks brown when it contacts with Lugol's solution but precancerous cells look yellow.

If it’s necessary, your doctor may take a tissue sample or biopsy from abnormal areas. This part may cause mild discomfort or cramps, but it lasts only a few minutes. In case you experience severe pain, don’t be shy to tell your doctor about this because it can be a symptom of infection or inflammation.

Your doctor may discuss certain test results with you right away the procedure or after a couple of weeks. If necessary, you can empty your bladder and your nurse can give you a sanitary pad if you have bleeding. Bloody discharge during few hours after colposcopy is completely normal.

What happens after the procedure?
In case you only get a colposcopy without a biopsy, your discharges may be mild. But if the biopsy were performed as well, you may feel mild cramping and bloody discharges for a day or two after a colposcopy. You may also notice some dark discharges from the solutions your doctor used during the procedure.

After the procedure, the doctor may recommend you not to insert anything into the vagina for 24 hours. You should also refrain from sex during this period. To stay on the safe side, it is recommended to use a pad for discharge and avoid tampons.

If your symptoms are worse than expected, you should consult your doctor as soon as possible. Make an appointment with your doctor if you have heavy blood flow for more then two days or you experience severe pain and over-the-counter medications don’t help.

Author's Bio: 

I am Amelia Grant, journalist, and blogger. I think that information is a great force that is able to change people’s lives for the better. That is why I feel a strong intention to share useful and important things about health self-care, wellness and other advice that may be helpful for people. Being an enthusiast of a healthy lifestyle that keeps improving my life, I wish the same for everyone.