Colposcopy is a procedure that uses a lighted, magnifying instrument called a colposcope to make your cervix easier to examine by making it appear much larger than it actually is. It typically takes about 10 minutes and is comparable to getting a Pap smear. Colposcopy may be used to screen for cancer in the cervix, vagina and vulva.
Your doctor may recommend a colposcopy if you are experiencing:
- Abnormal Pap smear results
- Bleeding after intercourse
- Genital warts
- Inflammation of the cervix
- Cervical growths
- Unexplained bleeding
A colposcopy usually includes the following steps:
- You will lie on the exam table with your feet in stirrups.
- Your doctor will use a speculum to make it easier to see your cervix.
- A vinegar solution may be used to make abnormal tissue easier to see.
- Your doctor uses the colposcope to examine your cervix and vulva.
- Tissue samples may be taken if there are areas that look abnormal or problematic.
Colposcopy is a fairly routine procedure and complications are rare. You may feel some tenderness after the procedure, but you should not experience significant pain or distress.
If you had areas that were biopsied, those tissue samples will be sent for testing. Your doctor will share your results and discuss with you whether further action is needed.