Colposcopy is an examination through which you can accurately visualize the skin of the vulva, then the mucous membrane of the vagina and the cervix. If during the examination some abnormality should be highlighted, a simultaneously biopsy can be performed, i.e., a small tissue sample that will subsequently be analyzed in the laboratory In many cases, the colposcopy is performed when the result of an abnormal Pap Test is used for an in-depth exam of both the vagina and the cervix. The colposcopy is performed by the gynecologist with an instrument that amplifies their vision from 2 to 60 times, the "colposcope", thus allows the physician to detect any abnormalities otherwise impossible to detect with the naked eye.
HOW DO YOU PERFORM A COLPOSCOPY?
The colposcopy is performed by gently patting the areas to be examined with a cotton swab containing acetic acid or an iodine solution (Lugol's solution). Thanks to these substances, it is possible to highlight any abnormal areas present.
In the case in which an anomalous area is discovered, one or more biopsies can be performed for the purpose of removing small portions of tissue, to then be subjected to laboratory analysis. The results of the analysis tell us if it the cells are inflamed, pre-cancerous (and therefore could develop into cancer) or cancerous.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A COLPOSCOPY?
The colposcopy is performed if any of the following conditions exists:
If the results of a Pap Test is abnormal, having already carefully examined the lining of the cervix in search of abnormal areas. If during the examination suspicious areas are detected during the biopsy, or a sample of tissue, or on the surface of the cervix itself (cervical biopsy) or into the endo-cervical canal, or there are problems regarding the epithelium that lines the channel through which the uterus opens to the vagina.
If the patient herself or following a gynecological examination, an ulcer or other abnormality is detected (such as a genital wart) in the vulva, or in the vagina or the cervix.
To check the passage of time of the development of an area considered suspect (in jargon “follow-up”) observed in the vagina or the cervix, or evalutate the effectiveness of a treatment performed as a result of the presence of a pre-cancerous lesion.
HOW DO YOU PREPARE YOURSELF FOR A COLPOSCOPY?
To prepare for a colposcopy, it is not necessary to have used, in the 48 hours preceding the examination, douches, pessaries, tampons or vaginal creams. At the same time, it is advisable to avoid sexual intercourse. In both cases, in fact, variations are possible, as well as alterations of the cells on the surface of the cervix.
The colposcopy must also be performed in a phase of the cycle in which there is neither a menstruation cycle nor tiny blood losses. In these cases, the procedure could compromise the visualization of the mucosa of the characteristics under consideration. The ideal time to carry out the examination is between the 10th and 20th day of the onset of menstruation.
WHAT ARE VAGINOSCOPIES, VULVOSCOPIES AND PENISCOPIES?
Diagnostic tests that are equivalent to colposcopy and that will be performed in the vagina, vulva and penis.