Colposcopy is often used to study the cervix, vagina and/or vulva in evaluating abnormal pap smears. The doctor uses a special microscope called a colposcope to closely examine the cervix, vagina, or vulva. Generally performed in the doctor’s office, this examination requires no anesthesia, as the colposcope remains outside of the patient’s body at all times. A colposcopic examination takes just a few minutes longer than a routine examination.
A colposcopy begins much like an ordinary pelvic exam, with the patient’s feet in stirrups and the vagina held open with a speculum. The doctor then washes the area to be examined with a vinegar solution that makes some types of cells more visible. The light and high magnification that the colposcope provides makes it possible for the doctor to visualize abnormal tissue and collect samples for examination by a pathologist. The samples or biopsies can result in a mild pinching or cramping, followed by light vaginal bleeding which could last a day or so.
Biopsy results can take up to 10-14 days. You may be asked to make an appointment to discuss them and make a plan for followup. If not, be sure you discuss your results on the phone.
(Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure)
LEEP is done after abnormal Pap test results have been confirmed by colposcopy and cervical biopsy. The cervix is covered by a thin layer of cells that are constantly shedding and being replaced by new cells. Sometimes these cells become abnormal (dysplasia). Mild forms of dysplasia may go away on their own but more severe forms may not go away and may progress into cervical cancer if not removed.
The LEEP procedure is performed in the office using a thin wire loop as a scalpel to remove a thin layer of abnormal surface cells. Medication is injected to numb the cervix (cervical block). Women are usually able to return to normal activities by the next day.
LEEP is very effective at removing the abnormal cells. Only a small amount of normal tissue is removed. LEEP can be done safely so as to not affect childbearing.
There is generally mild bleeding or discharge for several days afterward. A follow-up exam will be scheduled usually for two weeks later to ensure the cervix has healed. You should refrain from using tampons and/or having sex until the follow-up exam.