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Gynaecology

The Royal Cornwall Gynaecology department looks after the health of women’s reproductive systems. Our team of gynaecologists diagnose and treat a wide range of medical conditions that only affect women such as period issues, problems in early pregnancy and ovarian cancer.
Gynaecology Services

Cornwall Colposcopy Services

The Coloscopy Service at Royal Cornwall Hospitals is part of the NHS Cervical Screening Programme. We use screening as a way to prevent cancer by detecting and treating early abnormalities, which if left untreated, could over time lead to cancer in the cervix (neck of the womb).

Why do I need a Colposcopy?

You will usually be referred for a colposcopy if your cervical smear comes back as abnormal and identifies potential pre­-cancer changes. We also see woman who have been referred for an abnormal looking cervix or for bleeding after sex.

What happens at a Colposcopy?

Colposcopy is a simple and painless procedure where the cervix is visualised using a colposcope (a low powered magnifying instrument) that is placed about 10 inches from you, between your legs. The Colposcopy assesses the nature and extent of any abnormality found by the smear test. We may also take tiny biopsies (a specimen) for further analysis in the laboratory.

If you need treatment, we are often able to treat you at the same visit. We’ll let you know if this is necessary and available.

The Colposcopy team

Our friendly clinicians are all accredited by the British Society of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology (BSCCP).

If you have any questions or queries regarding colposcopy, you can speak to one of our friendly Colposcopy Nurses, Stella or Lee on 01872 252671. If we can’t answer, just leave a message and we will return your call.

Visiting the Colposcopy Suite

The RCHT Colposcopy Suite is in the Gynaecology outpatients department on the ground floor of the Princess Alexandra Wing at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Treliske, Truro. It is well sign­posted and has full disabled access. You’ll need to check in at the Princess Alexandra Wing Reception Desk when you arrive. Find out more about visiting the Royal Cornwall Hospital (including directions, parking and other facilities).

Booking Office

01736 874130

Colposcopy Co­ordinators

01872 252360 and 01872 252731

24hr Help

Please call 01872 2523163

Further information

You can find more information about abnormal smear results and the Colposcopy examination on the following websites:

Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU)

The early pregnancy unit is a specialist assessment and scanning service for women who are up to 14 weeks pregnant and have experienced pain and / or vaginal bleeding. Although we are able to reassure most patients that their pregnancy is progressing normally, if we do find any problems, we are able to offer a full range of treatment options.

We also look after women who have miscarried or have an ectopic pregnancy.

We can often offer treatment using medicines as an outpatient instead of the patient having to come in for an operation.

Your GP or midwife will be able to refer you (24 hr). Please ask them to call on 01872 253163.

Emergency Gynaecology Unit

The emergency gynaecology unit (EGU) is on hand to assess patients who need to see a doctor urgently and cannot wait for an outpatient appointment.

You will be assessed by a doctor and specialist nurse. We also have a midwife and gynaecology ultrasound available if needed. The majority of our patients can be assessed and treated at the unit and don’t need to be admitted to hospital.

If you need to attend the EGU, your GP will need to refer you to the on­-call gynaecology registrar by calling 01872 250000.

Endometriosis

The Cornwall Endometriosis Centre is home to a dynamic team of gynaecologists and nurse specialists that provides diagnosis and high quality care for women with all grades of endometriosis, ranging from mild to the most severe form involving the bladder and bowel.

What happens when you are referred to the Cornwall Endometriosis Centre?

Your first consultation at the centre will usually be with one of our clinical nurse specialists. At this appointment, we will take a detailed history and discuss your symptoms and how these affect your lifestyle. There will also be time to discuss any questions or concerns you have. We’ll arrange any necessary tests, which could include renal and pelvic scans, MRI scans and blood tests.

You’ll also be asked to complete a Quality of Life questionnaire. This is approved by the British Society of Gynaecological Endoscopy (BSGE) and will help us assess your symptoms and formulate a management plan. We’ll also ask you to complete these on subsequent visits so that we can monitor your symptoms and progress over time.

You’ll continue to meet with a clinical nurse specialist at regular intervals throughout your care in the endometriosis centre. We’ll give you their contact details in case you have any questions or need advice in between scheduled appointments.

After this initial appointment, we’ll give you a follow up appointment with a consultant around four weeks later, usually on a Thursday morning. This will give you an opportunity to think about treatment options and discuss them with your partner and/or family. During this meeting, we’ll review your test results and finalise any decisions about your treatment plan. This will include consent if you need to have surgery.

You can find out more about Endometriosis, its symptoms and treatment options on the NHS Choices website.

Treatment options for Endometriosis

Your treatment plan will aim to relieve pain, slow the growth of endometriosis tissue, improve fertility and prevent the disease returning. It may include one or several of the following treatment options:

  • Expectant treatment where we actively monitor your condition to see how it is progressing.
  • Pain medication or pain management to help you relieve pain
  • Hormone Treatment to reduce or stop the production of oestrogen.
  • Surgery, which could range from keyhole surgery (Laparoscopy) to a hysterectomy, although this is rarely required.

You can read more about the treatments for endometriosis on the NHS Choices website.

Further sources of information about endometriosis

Fertility Treatment

At the Cornwall Centre for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM), we assess and treat couples with fertility problems who are trying to get pregnant. We have three fertility nurse specialists and a full-time administrator based in our custom state-of-the-art Wheal Unity clinic, where we offer both NHS and private services.

We promise to offer the most effective, evidence-based treatments, tailored to the specific needs of each individual couple. Our latest results are available on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) website. We are delighted to accept referrals within the NHS service for any patient.

Our services include:

  • Ovulation induction including clomifene and metformin
  • Ultrasound scanning, follicle tracking and saline hysterosalpingography
  • Superovulation
  • Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
  • Tubal surgery and adhesiolysis
  • Laparoscopy and management of endometriosis
  • IVF / ICSI. These treatments are offered in partnership with Plymouth, Exeter, Bristol and other centres that are licensed by the HFEA to provide this treatment. We can provide most aspects of the treatment and monitoring locally, although it is necessary to travel to the IVF/ICSI laboratory to have the actual treatment. The CCRM team providing this service is led by two consultants, Miss Susan Bates and Mr Jonathan Lord.

Some couples are able to access assisted conception (IUI, IVF, ICSI) on the NHS if they meet eligibility criteria:

  • The woman is aged 23 – 39
  • Body Mass Index (BMI) of 19 – 29.9 kg/m2
  • Ceased smoking for at least 6 months.
  • No children living with them.
  • Couples with fertility problems in a stable relationship
  • No previous NHS-funded cycles of IVF
  • Specialist believes that the chance of live birth per cycle of IVF is greater than 10%
  • Infertility is not a result of previous sterilisation

Even where patients do not fulfil these criteria we are still able to offer advice, counselling, diagnostic work and some treatments within the NHS service.

For more information on assisted conception (IUI, IVF, ICSI) and how these services are organised and regulated, please visit The Human Fertility and Embryology Authority website.

You can also find out more about fertility treatment options on the NHS Choices website.

Gynaecological Cancer

The team here at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals provides specialist care to women diagnosed with cancers that start in the woman’s reproductive system. These include, cancer of the neck of the womb (cervical cancer), cancer of the ovary, cancer of the womb (also called uterine cancer or endometrial cancer), Vulval cancer or cancer of the birth canal (vaginal cancer).

We understand being given a cancer diagnosis is a difficult time for both patients and those close to them. We always aim to treat you as an individual, providing you with ongoing care and support throughout whilst maintaining your privacy and dignity at all times.

We encourage you to bring relatives to any of your appointments and if you wish to receive a written copy of your clinic discussion, please ask. Your Specialist Nurse will provide you with written information and support regarding your diagnosis and any treatment. We will regularly liaise with your GP and other health professionals involved in your ongoing care.

Find out more about Cancer Services at Royal Cornwall Hospitals, and the support and information we offer for people affected by cancer at The Cove, our Macmillan cancer support centre.

Further information on gynaecological cancers

Menstrual Disorders and Period Problems

The gynaecology department offers a full range of services for women suffering from menstrual disorder or period problems.

Although the department is based at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro, we try to assess patients in a clinic in one of the community hospitals close to their home. We currently offer consultant­-led clinics in seven locations across Cornwall. All have the facility to take small samples (biopsies) if needed.

Treatment

Most women can be successfully treated with simple methods such as tablets, implants or the Mirena intrauterine device. Sometimes it is necessary for us to carry out more detailed investigations, such as an ultrasound scan or minor operation. We can normally do these as a day case procedure.

Where more definitive treatment is necessary, the department offers a range of surgical options from day case procedures like endometrial ablation (where microwaves are used to destroy the lining of the womb) to a hysterectomy where the whole womb is removed.

Urogynaecology - Prolapse and Bladder Problems

The Cornwall Urogynaecology service treats women with all types of bladder and prolapse conditions. We are a dynamic team, focussed on providing high-quality, state-of-the-art care that embraces both traditional and new techniques.

We work closely with the Royal Cornwall Urology Team, other primary care and community continence services in a seamless manner and run a range of clinics to help our patients manage and treat their condition.

Bladder Problems

This is where the bladder fails to function adequately leading to problems either with leakage or the way the bladder fills or empties. Conditions include;

  • Stress incontinence – when urine leaks out when your bladder is under pressure, for example when you cough or laugh.
  • Irritable bladder – where your bladder contracts when it’s not supposed to.
  • Voiding difficulties – where your bladder doesn’t empty properly.

Find out more about bladder problems and their treatment.

Prolapse

A prolapse happens when the bladder, rectum, bowel, uterus or vaginal wall slip down from their normal position. A prolapse may go unnoticed, but it can also cause discomfort or a feeling of pressure or heaviness. It can also affect sex and cause bladder and bowel problems. Visit the NHS Choices website to find out more about how and why a prolapse happens.

We offer a range of treatment and surgical procedures to correct vaginal wall prolapses. Whatever type of repair is decided upon, the aim of the operation is to provide support for the vagina, restore the affected pelvic organs to their natural position, and to prevent another prolapse. Your consultant will discuss the available options in detail with you so that you can make an informed choice. Read more about the different treatment options available.