Vulvoscopy and / or Vulval Biopsy

Patient Experience

  • Reference Number: HEY-281/2021
  • Departments: Gynaecology
  • Last Updated: 12 March 2021


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information about your vulvoscopy.  Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet.  It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and the healthcare team, but may act as a starting point for discussion.   If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team.

What is a vulvoscopy?

A vulvoscopy is an examination of the vulva. The vulva comprises of the clitoris and two pairs of skin folds (labia) forming the external visible part of the female genitalia.  A special microscope called a colposcope is used to see the area. Special stains may be used. This may lead to slight stinging or irritation which often settles soon after.

What is a vulval biopsy?

A vulval biopsy is usually performed if you have noticed itching, redness, swelling or changes in colour to this area. The biopsy is undertaken to remove cells from the vulva for testing.

What does the procedure involve?

Before the procedure is undertaken, the doctor will explain what is going to happen. One or more small pieces of tissue are removed from the vulval area. This is sent to the laboratory to be examined.  You may require stitches to the area where the biopsy has been taken from. The inserted stitches will dissolve within approximately seven days.

The procedure takes about 20 – 30 minutes and is done under local anaesthetic. After the procedure is finished you will be taken to the recovery area and monitored until you have recovered fully.

Can there be any complications or risks?

As with all procedures there can be complications. These may include bleeding and infection. You are advised to keep the area clean and dry. If you have any problems please see your doctor.

Will it be painful?

You will be given a local anaesthetic prior to the procedure. We advise that when you are back at home, if you experience any discomfort following the procedure, you may take normal pain relief medication.

What happens when I get home?

It is advised that you rest for a couple of days and refrain from work, exercise and sitting in a warm bath for a few days. Please dab gently whilst trying to dry the vulval region.

You may experience some bleeding or discharge for up to a week. If you start to bleed heavily or find that the discharge is very smelly, please contact your doctor.

Changing your sanitary pads regularly will help to prevent infection.  The use of bubble baths and intercourse should be avoided until the area is completely healed. This may take up to 2 – 4 weeks depending on the exact area of biopsy and other contributory medical conditions.

When will I be seen again?

The nurse that discharges you after your procedure, will inform you if you require a follow up appointment, which will be posted to you.

What if I have further questions?

If you have any other questions please ask either a doctor or nurse.  We hope your stay with us will be comfortable. If there is anything that you are not happy with please approach the nurse looking after you who will try to resolve the situation.

If you have any concerns or worries within the first two days after discharge then please telephone them for advice and ask to speak to the nurse in charge.

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet, please do not hesitate to contact the Gynaecology Outpatients – Women and Children’s Hospital (01482) 607829.

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about you

We collect and use your information to provide you with care and treatment. As part of your care, information about you will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.

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