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What is a Vulvoscopy?
A Vulvoscopy is the examination of the vulva area using a microscope called a Colopscope. The vulva area consists of the labia (the two pairs of skin folds outside the female genitals) and the clitoris.
Why do I need a Vulvoscopy?
A Vulvoscopy is indicated if you have noticed changes such as itching, redness, swelling or a change in colour or texture to the labial area.
What does the procedure involves?
A microscope called a Colposcope is used to look at the vulval area (this doesn’t touch or enter your body).A Colposcope looks like a pair of binoculars on a stand with a light source. You will be asked to remove your lower garments and lie on a special type of examination couch with padded supports on which to rest your legs. Two liquids (acetic acid and iodine) are applied to the vulval skin using cotton wool to highlight any abnormal areas. This may cause mild irritation. If any abnormal area is highlighted, a biopsy might be required. A nurse will with you for support and
reassurance throughout the procedure.
A Vulval biopsy is a very small sample of skin which is taken from the vulval area and sent to the laboratory to be examined. This is to assess the level of abnormality and to determine whether treatment is necessary. Local anaesthetic is used before the biopsy is taken. This will sting for a few moments after which you will not feel any further discomfort. You may have 1 or 2 dissolvable stitches. The procedure takes about 20-30 minutes. Following your Vulval Biopsy you need to take care to allow the skin to heal as quickly as possible. The aftercare advice that follows will speed your recovery.
After a biopsy:
To reduce the risk of infection & promote healing:
• You should rest following the biopsy. Light exercise may continue but avoid heavy work and exercise for a few days or until the area has healed.
• You can expect some discomfort and light bleeding. Over-the-counter pain relief can be used if required (speak to the pharmacist if you need medication advice)
• No sexual intercourse for at least 2 weeks.
• You may shower as usual, but do not linger in the bath or add bubbles. Keep the area dry and clean. Gently pat the affected skin dry – do not rub vigorously. Avoid perfumed products until the area has healed.
• The stitches can take 7 to 10 days dissolve.
• Swimming can be resumed once the stitches have dissolved and the biopsy site has healed.
When will I get the results
You will receive your results in up to 2 to 6 weeks. If results not received by this time, contact the Colposcopy Department. If bleeding becomes heavy and/or you have smelly discharge, contact us or your GP as soon as possible as this may indicate an infection.
It is important to keep all further appointments after a biopsy. If you are concerned in any way following your treatment, please contact:
One of the team:
Monday – Friday between 9 – 5pm 01908 996318 (secretary)
01908 995223 (Nursing Office) (This service is not available on Thursday)
Out of hours – contact your GP.
HEA (1996) The Colposcopy Examination
HEA (1996) What Your Abnormal Result Means
NHS Cancer Screening Programme (2001)
Cancer Screening – The Facts