When a gynaecologist needs a more detailed cervix exam, a colposcopy will be performed. Women are referred when the outcome of a routine cervical screening (smear testing) reveals abnormal cells.

Often, abnormal cells are harmless, with the likelihood of disappearing without incident; however, they must be further examined beyond the gynaecological scope to avoid the risk that these develop into something more severe in the future, such as cervical cancer.

The private colposcopy exam is a vital part of reproductive wellness, helping to confirm cell abnormality and if treatment to remove them is essential. In some instances, if a patient is having abnormal episodes of vaginal bleeding, a colposcopy will be recommended.

This can occur between menstruation cycles, after sexual activity, or possibly after experiencing menopause. Let’s look more in-depth at colposcopies to become better informed.

What Is a Colposcopy

A colposcopy is essentially a preventive exam when a smear test or cervical screen shows abnormal cells. The colposcopy offers a more thorough presentation to ensure these cells are not harmful, which would mean having them removed.

Sometimes, the doctor will send you for a colposcopy because there are visible cervix changes. The test offers an intricate view through the use of a special microscope that allows the practitioner to see each detail more clearly.

These exams are typically performed within the hospital setting or a colposcopy clinic with a duration of roughly 20 minutes as an outpatient. A practitioner explicitly trained to perform colposcopies will conduct the exam, either a nurse or a doctor.

The patient prepares the same way as she would for a gynaecological exam with a speculum inserted as it would be for cervical screening. Still, the colposcopist will use a special lighted microscope to view the cervix in great detail.

An application of liquid solutions is used for abnormal cell testing. The speculum and the solutions will be the only invasive applications. Some individuals could have a biopsy, which involves taking a small tissue sample from the cervix for a lab review to decide if treatment will be required.

Sometimes, the colposcopist can make that decision immediately. If that’s the case, the patient could have the abnormal cells removed on the same day. If the outcome is unclear, the biopsy result will be needed before deciding.

Find out what happens with cervical screening at https://www.stylist.co.uk/life/cervical-cancer-smear-test-results-health-nhs-doctor-2/185038.

What Is the Recovery Time Following a Colposcopy

The colposcopy is a relatively quick procedure with minimal if any, pain and is done outpatient. Patients can go back to their normal activities of daily living following the exam, but some people prefer to take a couple of days to relax.

You can expect some light bloody discharge for roughly five days if you’ve had a biopsy. It’s important to refrain from sexual activity, using tampons or any vaginal lubricants for this time period. The procedure is one that’s performed often and is considered to be safe with no serious risks associated.

Some patients could experience light bloody vaginal discharge, some slight pain or discomfort. It’s recommended to contact your medical provider if you have “persistent bleeding, a heavier than normal flow, an odorous discharge or abdominal pain.”

If there are no immediate findings and a biopsy is taken, the results from the biopsy can take as long as eight weeks; this comes via post. One of two results is possible.


With this, no abnormal cells were found, and there was no need for immediate action. It’s noted that roughly “four out of ten women receive a normal colposcopy.” Still, it’s vital to continue with regular screening as usual.

These need to be done every three years for anyone 25-49 and every five years for anyone 50-64.


When receiving an abnormal result, treatment will likely be necessary for abnormal cell removal. It’s suggested that roughly “six out of ten women will have abnormal cervical cells.”

This outcome doesn’t imply a cervical cancer diagnosis, but it does put you at risk of developing cancer if treatment is neglected. View here for details on cervical treatment.

Treatment for Abnormal Cell Removal Following the Colposcopy

Patients could be referred for abnormal cell removal following the colposcopy if the likelihood of cancer development is moderate to high if left untreated. When removed, cancer will not be able to develop.

A few choices are available for treatment, but two are most common. These include the following:

The large loop excision of the transformation zone – LLETZ

A relatively straightforward approach involves using a thin wire loop, heated, to excise the abnormal cervical cells, albeit preserving the healthy cervix intact as much as possible.

The LLETX can happen immediately following the colposcopy if it has been clarified that these abnormal cells definitively must be removed. The patient remains awake while the cervix is numbed for the procedure and will often go home following.

The cone biopsy

This procedure is also among the most common but less so than the LLETZ. It’s usually one that is performed when larger tissue areas need removal.

With this approach, a cone-shaped tissue captures the abnormal cells and cuts these from the cervix. The patient undergoes general anaesthetic and will remain in care overnight.

The procedure needs to be scheduled since it’s not one performed following a colposcopy.

Final Thought

Following treatment for removal of abnormal cells, regardless of which approach you take, it’s recommended that you schedule a cervical screening six months following the procedure.

This will ensure that all the abnormal cells have been removed. If significant cell changes are again found, another colposcopy will be suggested. If there are no findings with everything looking good following the removal, another cervical screening won’t be necessary for three years.

It’s vital to keep up with routine screenings. That’s true for anyone, even those who haven’t had abnormal cell findings, but particularly if you have. Maintaining a routine with your reproductive health will ensure you continue to find abnormalities and have them taken care of early to avoid the potential for illness.