A colposcopy sounds scary, but it's a straightforward, outpatient procedure that helps your OB/GYN provider examine your vagina, vulva, and cervix closely. This procedure is routinely done when you have certain symptoms or risk factors that would benefit from an in-depth examination.
During a colposcopy, your doctor uses the colposcope, a magnifying instrument, to closely examine your cervix. This allows them to see any areas of abnormal cell growth more clearly and to take biopsies of suspicious tissue if necessary. The results of these biopsies provide critical information about the extent of any cell changes.
Here at Women’s Care of Beverly Hills in South Bay, Redondo Beach, and Beverly Hills, California, our expert OB/GYN team wants to help you understand why you may need a colposcopy. Read on to learn three common reasons that would lead us to order the test.
One of the most common reasons we recommend a colposcopy is if you receive abnormal Pap smear results. The Pap smear is a routine screening used to detect changes in cervical cells that could indicate cancer or other health problems.
An abnormal Pap smear may signal the presence of abnormal cervical cells, inflammation, or infections, including the human papillomavirus (HPV). A colposcopy is often the next step when abnormal cells are detected in a Pap smear.
An abnormal Pap smear result is NOT a diagnosis of cancer. It simply means you may require further evaluation through a colposcopy. If your provider does take a biopsy during your colposcopy, the results of these tests can provide important information to guide any further treatment or monitoring.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted disease. Certain strains can affect the cervix and lead to changes in cervical cells. In many cases, your immune system clears the infection without any symptoms or complications.
However, in some instances, persistent HPV infection can lead to the development of abnormal cervical cells, which may turn into cervical dysplasia or even cervical cancer.
We often recommend a colposcopy to further discover any cervical changes associated with an HPV infection. By examining the cervix under magnification, a colposcopy helps determine the severity of the cell changes and guides the appropriate treatment plan, which may include close monitoring or additional tests.
We may also recommend a colposcopy when we notice cervical abnormalities during a routine pelvic exam. Visible concerns, such as the presence of lesions or growths, could require additional treatment, but only after we understand the nature of these abnormalities.
Your provider may take biopsies of the unusual areas during your colposcopy to send to a laboratory. The lab then gives us a more definitive diagnosis, which helps us develop an appropriate care plan.
Whether you've received an abnormal Pap smear result, have an HPV infection, or your healthcare provider suspects cervical abnormalities, a colposcopy provides valuable insights into your gynecological health.
If we recommend a colposcopy or you have questions about the procedure, don't hesitate to reach out to Women’s Care of Beverly Hills. Call or use the online tool to book an appointment. We will help you know what to expect during and after the procedure.