• Colposcopy Procedure

    What is a Colposcopy?

    Colposcopy is a way to view your cervix, vaginal walls and vulva with equipment that can magnify the area. Like a microscope, the colposcope allows the doctor to see more than can be observed with the eye alone. 

    Why is it Ordered?

    When you have changes on your Pap test that could lead to cancer, a colposcopy allows the doctor to view the abnormal cells under magnification. Colposcopy may be performed to assess the following conditions or problems:

    • Bleeding
    • Cervicitis
    • Genital warts
    • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
    • Polyps

    Procedure Description

    Similar to a Pap test, you place your feet into stirrups and your doctor inserts a speculum into your vagina. A mild vinegar or iodine solution is applied to the area with the use of large cotton swabs so abnormal areas are easier to see with the colposcope. Biopsies of these areas are sometimes performed, in which a small sample is removed with special equipment. A sample from the cervical canal may also be taken (endocervical curettage). Biopsies are sent to the laboratory for evaluation.


    Following a colposcopy in which no biopsy is performed, you should feel fine right away, and normal activities may be resumed. If you have a colposcopy with a biopsy, you may feel crampy or sore. Your doctor may prescribe a mild analgesic, if necessary.

    What to Expect Following Colposcopy

    • Mild cramping
    • Slight vaginal bleeding
    • Thick, dark brown to black discharge due to the medicated paste used

    Your doctor will instruct you on your activity. Do not put anything in your vagina until permission is given.

    • Do not have sexual intercourse
    • Do not use tampons or insert other objects into your vagina
    • Do not douche

    Call your doctor if you experience any of the following:

    • Fever (greater than 100.3°F) or chills
    • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
    • Heavy vaginal bleeding (using more than one full size sanitary napkin in an hour)
    • Severe abdominal pain

    Follow-up doctor’s visits will be scheduled to monitor your progress through Pap smears and further colposcopies.

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