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What is vaginoscopy?

Vaginoscopy is an examination of the inside of the vagina using a cystoscope. A cystoscope is a plastic coated cable thinner than a pencil, with a tiny video camera on the end. As the camera films the inside of the vagina, the doctor can see what the camera sees on a video monitor.

Vaginoscopy is a diagnostic procedure. This means that it helps the doctor find out if there is something wrong inside the vagina.

Vaginoscopy is done when a young girl has unexplained pain or bleeding from the vagina. It is different from the kind of examination a gynaecologist or family doctor would use for a woman's vagina. For young girls, a vaginoscopy is more comfortable and easier to have done.

Vaginoscopy is done under general anaesthesia

Before the examination, your child is put to sleep with medicines. This is called general anaesthesia. The examination usually takes a few minutes, but the whole procedure including putting your child to sleep may take about an hour.

The doctor will gently put the cystoscope into the vagina. This will not harm any tissues, including the hymen. The doctor will then look at the monitor to see if there is anything wrong. Sometimes a foreign object such as a piece of toilet paper is the problem. If this is the case, the doctor will be able to see the object with the cystoscope. The doctor may also take a swab from the vagina to test for infection. A swab is a small sample of liquid taken from the wall of the vagina with a clean Q-Tip.

Some parents worry that this procedure will affect the child's virginity. It will not. No tissues are damaged and the child will not remember the event.  

In the recovery room after a vaginoscopy

After a vaginoscopy, your child will go to the recovery room until the general anesthetic wears off. When she wakes up, and is able to drink water, you can take her home.

At home after a vaginoscopy

After you leave the hospital and get home, your child may feel some mild discomfort. If there is any pain, you may give your child Tylenol. Read the Tylenol label to find out how much to give her.

Your child may bleed or "spot" a little after the vaginoscopy, but this does not happen often. She can return to her regular activities when she feels up to it. Most girls are comfortable getting back into their daily routines the next day.

You may have come back to the clinic for a follow-up visit.

When to call the doctor

Call the doctor if your child has any of these symptoms after a vaginoscopy:

  • pain that is very bad or gets worse
  • heavy bleeding from the vagina
  • fever
  • trouble urinating (peeing)

Key points

  • Vaginoscopy is an examination of the inside of the vagina.
  • It is done under general anaesthetic.
  • Most girls who have vaginoscopy go home the same day and quickly return to their daily activities.

Joley Johnstone, RN, BScN