In colposcopy, the vagina and cervix are examined with a special instrument. When and how to use it read here!


In the colposcopy The vagina and the cervix are examined with the help of a special microscope, the colposcope. The colposcopy is performed as part of the gynecological check-up and is mainly used for the early diagnosis of cervical cancer and its precursors. Read all about colposcopy, how it is done and what the risks are.

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  • What is a colposcopy?

  • When do you perform a colposcopy?

  • What do you do with a colposcopy?

  • What are the risks of a colposcopy?

  • What do I have to consider after a colposcopy?

What is a colposcopy?

Colposcopy is a gynecological examination. The doctor looks at the vagina and cervix with the colposcope as with a magnifying glass. The six to forty times magnification makes it possible to detect changes under illumination that are difficult to assess with the naked eye. If the doctor dabbed the cervix with special solutions, he can draw conclusions about cancer or cancer precursors by staining certain cells. Colposcopy is an important tool in the early detection of cervical cancer.

When do you do a colposcopy?

The colposcopy is performed by default in the gynecological check-up and is also used in the diagnosis of diseases or abnormalities of the cervix and vagina:

  • Suspected cancer
  • Suspected cancer precursors
  • suspicious cytological smears, e.g. PAP smear
  • cancer aftercare
  • proven infections
  • Changes in the cervix
  • Bleeding without known origin
  • persistent discharge from the vagina
  • inflammation

If tumors are suspected, a tissue sample can be taken during colposcopy as part of a biopsy.

For these diseases, the examination is important

  • cervical cancer
  • PMS
  • vaginal cancer
  • cervical incompetence

What do you do with a colposcopy?

The colposcopy is an outpatient procedure and the patient can go home after the examination. One day before the colposcopy should be dispensed tampons and sexual intercourse, and the examination date should not coincide with the menstrual period.

The doctor first collects the medical history and asks the complaints. For colposcopy, the patient sits in a gynecological chair. First, the doctor dilates the vagina with an examination instrument, positions the colposcope in front of it - it is not inserted - and focuses it. When inspecting the mucous membrane of the cervix, the doctor pays special attention to irregularities of the surface and abnormalities of the vessels.

During colonoscopy, injuries or changes can be visualized using special solutions.

acetic acid sample

The doctor dabs the mucous membrane with a three to five percent solution of acetic acid, which can cause a mild burning sensation. Healthy tissue does not change, while altered cells turn whitish. This finding is also called "vinegar white". If white spots appear before the application of acetic acid, this is called leukoplakia. This may also indicate cancer cells.

Schiller's iodine test

Then an iodine solution is dabbed for the extended colposcopy. Healthy mucosa turns brown, so is iodine positive. Altered mucosa does not discolor or only slightly.

Finally, the vagina and external genital are examined. In case of abnormalities, the doctor uses a small forceps to take a tissue sample for a histological examination in a laboratory. Since the uterus is almost insensitive to pain, the removal is usually done without anesthesia.

More about the symptoms

  • discharge
  • Burning in the vagina
  • Breakthrough pain
  • spotting
  • Irregular cycle
  • Abdominal pains

What are the risks of a colposcopy?

Colposcopy is a safe and uncomplicated study. Maybe the acetic acid causes a slight burning sensation. In rare cases bleeding may occur due to removal of the tissue sample. Very rarely, infections occur. If you have iodine intolerance or hyperthyroidism, you must tell your doctor before colposcopy. Colposcopy does not pose a risk to the child during pregnancy.

What do I have to consider after a colposcopy?

After colposcopy, slight bleeding or brownish discharge may occur. This is completely normal. The first days after the colposcopy you should refrain from full baths, swimming, tampons and sexual intercourse. If you experience sudden pain or unusually heavy bleeding, please contact your doctor immediately.

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