What is colposcopy?
Colposcopy is a procedure for examining the vagina (or, more precisely, its walls and entrance) using a special device - the colposcope. This device is a binocular and a lighting device.
The name of the method comes from the words "colpo" (vagina) and "scope" (look) and is literally translated as "look into the vagina". During colposcopy, a thorough examination of the cervix is ??performed under multiple optical magnifications (up to 40 times). This device is equipped with a special backlight, so that you can see the darkened tissues and a fine vascular network. Examination with the help of a colposcope takes place on a gynecological chair.
Today, doctors can offer their patients photocolposcopy and video-colposcopy. In both cases, it is possible to store data, which later will allow you to compare the picture before and after treatment. This is especially valuable in situations where there are suspicions that a woman has cervical disease that is prone to relapse.
Colposcopy solves several important problems. With its help, it is possible to identify foci of lesions, analyze the general condition of the mucous membrane of the vagina and cervix, distinguish benign neoplasms from malignant ones, and conduct a biopsy for further diagnosis. The doctor, conducting a procedure with the help of a colposcope, assesses the color of the examined tissues and vascular pattern, establishes epithelial disorders, determines the presence and shape of the glands, and the boundaries of the revealed formations. During colposcopy, the specialist will be able to accurately establish the nature of the discharge (they can be purulent, bloody, mucous, and so on).
Colposcopy can be of two types: simple and extended. At the simple the expert does not use medicamental agents, and at expanded, on the contrary, applies special tests. For example, the 3% acetic acid applied to the mucosa shows the changes that have occurred on the surface. In this case, unchanged vessels narrow. This test is of the greatest clinical significance. Along with this method of diagnosis, a sample is used with Lugol's solution (iodine), which determines glycogen in the epithelium. This sample is called the Schiller test. In advanced cases (for example, with cancer), a special probe is used and a Hrobaka test is performed. In most cases, with intolerance to iodine or acetic acid, colposcopy is contraindicated.
How to prepare for colposcopy?
Special preparation for colposcopy is not expected. One of the few requirements is the woman's lack of menstruation. It is absolutely not important, what a woman's day menstrual cycle. Nevertheless, most doctors advise also not to perform colposcopy in the middle of the cycle, because during this period a fairly large amount of mucus is collected in the cervical channel and on the cervix. The second - the refusal of sexual intercourse with a partner 2-4 days before the procedure. Also, a few days before colposcopy, syringing, vaginal creams and tablets should not be used. During this period it is very important that the microflora of the vagina and uterus is natural. When the microflora is normal - it is easier to establish the correct diagnosis and see the real picture. 2-3 days before the visit to the doctor for personal hygiene, it is better to use simple warm water and a small amount of baby soap.
How does the procedure for examination with a colposcope?
The duration of the procedure is from 20 to 40 minutes. As already mentioned, the examination is performed on a gynecological chair. Colposcope is installed at a distance of 10-15 centimeters from the genital slit. The doctor exposes the cervix through vaginal mirrors, and then, using cotton swabs, removes mucus. Further, with the help of a colposcope, she examines the vaginal part of the woman's cervix. In this case, the light beam is directed perpendicularly. This is a simple colposcopy, which is non-contact and, therefore, painless. After a simple colposcopy, the doctor produces an expanded colposcopy. First, it applies to the mucosa various solutions that alter the color of the epithelium depending on the nature of the research. This makes it possible to identify the boundaries of the affected areas of the epithelium. This examination, as mentioned earlier, allows you to study the pathology of the cervix, determine the nature and even possible causes of these pathologies, exclude or, conversely, suspect a precancerous or cancerous condition. The results of colposcopy are evaluated immediately when it is performed. As a result, a protocol is drawn up for each particular study, to which a photograph is attached or, if necessary, a video recording. After the doctor makes a medical report, he appoints a course of treatment or sends for an additional examination.
When may I need colposcopy?
Then, when it is necessary to exclude or confirm the presence of genital warts, precancerous changes in the tissues of the vulva, vagina, cervix or the cancer of these organs.
Symptoms that are taken into account when deciding whether to perform this examination are:
- Itching and (or) burning in the vagina;
- uterine bleeding, not associated with regular menstruation;
- painful sensations and (or) bleeding during sexual intercourse;
- "dull" constant pain in the lower abdomen, which eventually becomes stronger;
- rashes around the external genitalia.
In case of an unsatisfactory result of a smear, the doctor will also send the patient to colposcopy.
Colposcopy before pregnancy
Every woman who decided to plan her pregnancy will face the need to visit different doctors and give different tests. Colposcopy, which she will be prescribed without fail, will allow you to notice changes in the epithelium or specific diseases already in the early stages. And this, in turn, will allow to take necessary measures and provide a healthy pregnancy. If the colposcopy did not reveal any problems and if there are no other health problems, then it is possible to become pregnant at least the same evening. If it turns out that the health of the woman is not all right, you will have to postpone this pleasant event until the doctor gives you a "good". But do not despair, because it is for this to conduct a diagnosis, and you need a colposcopy before pregnancy!
Colposcopy during pregnancy
Many gynecologists consider colposcopy to be a mandatory research during pregnancy. As a rule, during this period - during the gestation of a baby - colposcopy is advised to be performed without the use of diagnostic tests. To be afraid of a colposcopy during pregnancy there is no sense: she can not do much harm to the kid.
The need to conduct this examination during pregnancy often arises precisely because a large number of modern women are not fully examined before they become pregnant. And many do not plan pregnancy itself, and therefore during the gestation receive a variety of "gifts" from your body in the form of a particular sore. Promotes this and immune suppression (suppression), which is provoked by pregnancy and for this state is the norm. As a result, some pathology of the cervix can begin to progress (and quite rapidly). These, in the first place, include dysplasia of the cervix and cervical cancer. All this can lead to unfavorable course, and even the outcome of pregnancy.
Doctors insist on colposcopy of pregnant women also because some types of erosion should be urgently treated even during pregnancy. If colposcopy shows the presence of extensive erosion, a woman can be prescribed a delivery not by a natural route, but by a caesarean section.
Colposcopy with biopsy (taking cells for a study) is prescribed to pregnant women only in extreme cases, as a biopsy can cause bleeding of the cervix, and in some cases, especially in the early stages, miscarriage. But colposcopy itself, that is, examination using a multiple increase, is for pregnant women an absolutely harmless and painless procedure.