Colposcopy is a procedure used to examine the cervix, vagina and vulva tissues through a special magnifying device called a colposcope.

Colposcopy is done when a Pap test result shows abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.

  • The Colposcope shines a light onto the vagina and cervix and
  • Enlarges the normal view by 2 to 60 times.
  • This exam allows the doctor to find problems that cannot be seen by the eye alone.
  • Colposcopy enables the doctor to find about more about the abnormal cells and assess other problems, including
    • Genital warts on the cervix
    • Cervicitis (an inflamed cervix)
    • Benign (not cancerous) growths, such as polyps
    • Bleeding

About the procedure

  • Colpscopy is done in our office
  • The procedure should be scheduled when you are NOT having your period.
  • For at least 24 hours before the test, you should not:
    • Douche
    • Use tampons
    • Use vaginal medications
    • Have sex
  • Sometimes a Colposcopy may need to be done more than once.
  • It also can be used to check the results of a treatment.

What Happens During Colposcopy

  • As with a pelvic exam, you will lie on your back with your feet placed in the stirrups for support
  • A speculum will be used to hold apart the vaginal walls
  • the colposcope will be placed just outside the opening of your vagina.
  • A mild solution will be applied to your cervix and vagina with a cotton swab to make abnormal areas on the cervix easier to see.
  • You may feel a slight burning.

A Biopsy During Colposcopy

If your doctor sees areas of abnormal cells or areas, he or she may take tissue samples for biopsy.

  • When the biopsy results come back from the lab, your doctor will discuss them with you.
  • Depending on the results, you may need to be checked more often, or you may need further testing or treatments.


  • If you have a colposcopy without a biopsy, you should feel fine right away.
  • You can do the things you normally do, though you may have some spotting for a few days.
  • If you have a colposcopy with a biopsy, your may have some discomfort for 1 or 2 days
  • you may have some vaginal bleeding.
  • You may also have a dark discharge resulting from the medication used to help stop bleeding at the biopsy site. If so, wear a sanitary pad until the discharge stops.

Your doctor may suggest you limit your activity for a brief time. While the cervix heals, you should not put anything into your vagina:

  • Do not have sex
  • Do not use tampons
  • Do not douche

Call your doctor right away if you have any of these problems:

  • Heavy vaginal bleeding (using more than one sanitary pad per hour)
  • Severe lower abdominal pain
  • Fever
Colposcopy - To evaluate abnormal PAP smears (PDF)
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