During this procedure your doctor takes a closer look at your cervix and vagina using a special instrument called a colposcope. The colposcope magnifies the area, helping your doctor find where the abnormal cells came from and possibly take small tissue samples (biopsies) for further evaluation.
Why is a Colposcopy Performed?
Colposcopy is used to detect cervical cancer as well as changes in the cervical tissue that can lead to cancer. Your doctor may also recommend this test if bleeding occurs after sexual intercourse.
It also may be performed if your doctor notices any abnormal areas on your cervix during a routine examination, which could include:
- Abnormal growth on the cervix or vagina
- Genital warts (HPV)
- Irritation or inflammation of the cervix (cervicitis)
What Does the Colposcopy Procedure Involve?
Colposcopy is performed in your doctor’s office. You’ll lie on an exam table and place your feet in stirrups, just as you do for a pelvic exam.
- To start, your doctor will insert a speculum into the vagina to widen it and get a better view of your cervix (which is at the top of your vagina)
- The cervix and vagina are gently cleansed with a vinegar solution; this removes the mucus that covers the surface and highlights any abnormal cells
- Your doctor then places the colposcope at the opening of the vagina and examines the area (the colposcope is not inserted into the vagina)
- If any areas look abnormal, your doctor will remove small tissue samples using small biopsy tools
You may feel a slight sting from the vinegar solution, and a pinch or cramp when tissue samples are taken. Slow, regular breathing will help you relax. Ask your doctor about taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen (Tylenol) before your procedure to help relieve any discomfort.
Preparing for the Procedure
Colposcopy is best performed when you’re not having your period. For 24 hours before your procedure, avoid sexual intercourse, douching, using tampons and vaginal medications.
What Should I Expect After the Procedure?
You may have some mild spotting for several days. If you have a biopsy, you may have a dark discharge for several days and mild cramping. For one week after your colposcopy, don’t have sex, use tampons or douche.
Women’s Health: Experts in Colposcopy
All of the physicians on our team have extensive experience performing a colposcopy, so you can be assured that you’re in good hands if you need to have this procedure.
Questions about Colposcopy?
We’re happy to answer any questions you have about colposcopy. Simply contact us.