Vulvar and vaginal biopsy

What is a vulvar/vaginal biopsy?

A vulvar/vaginal biopsy takes one or more samples of tissue from the vulva or vagina. The vulva is the outer parts of the female genitals, including the labia, which are often called the lips, and the clitoris. The vagina is the opening that leads to the cervix, which is the entrance to the uterus.

Why is a vulvar/vaginal biopsy needed?

A biopsy is done to determine why you may have noticed itching, redness, swelling or changes in color to your vulva or vagina. It may also be done if you have a lump or sore that has recently appeared.

What happens during the procedure?

The biopsy area will be cleaned with an antiseptic liquid. If you are having a vaginal biopsy, your provider will use a speculum to open your vagina. A speculum is the same instrument used during a Pap smear. Numbing medicine will be injected into the area that is going to be biopsied. One or more small pieces of tissue will be removed and sent to a lab for analysis. If you require stitches, dissolvable stitches will most likely be used, which do not need to be removed by your provider. You may feel some discomfort and pressure during the procedure. 

What are the risks?

A small risk of:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection

What should I do to prepare for the procedure?

You may be asked to trim your pubic hair in the area where the biopsy will be taken. Or this may be done by your provider before he or she takes the biopsy.

What should I expect during recovery?

  • Keep the area as clean and dry as possible
  • You may bathe or shower as soon as you want after the procedure.
    • Gently pat the area dry with a clean towel
  • If urine stings the area when you go to the bathroom, you can coat it with a thin film of Vaseline

Call your provider if you experience:

  • Redness, swelling and skin that is warm to the touch in the biopsy area
  • Fever (100.4oF or greater) in the 10 days following the procedure
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding

Office number: (404) 778-3401, Monday – Friday 8:30AM – 5PM

For emergencies after hours calling this number will connect you to the paging operator who will page the OBGYN doctor on call.

If your pain becomes severe, or your fever rises above 102oF in the 3 days following the procedure you should go to the emergency room.

How long will it take to get my results?

It should take 1-2 weeks to get your results. You may receive your results one of three ways:

  • A phone call from your doctor or nurse
  • Through your secure Emory Healthcare portal
  • Through Televox, the automated phone number you can call to get results, if you have not yet activated a portal account

If you do not have your results after 2 weeks, please call the office at the number listed above.

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