Colposcopy

Services: In-House Procedures

Colposcopy

Colposcopy is a way of looking at the cervix through a particular magnifying device called a colposcope. It shines a light into the vagina and onto the cervix. A colposcope can significantly enlarge the standard view.

Do you have questions about having a colposcopy performed? Wondering why a colposcopy is performed? We are here to help.

This exam allows an obstetrician-gynecologist (ob-gyn) to find problems that cannot be seen by the eye alone.

Denise Klemczak, DO, FACOOG

Colposcopy Frequently Asked Questions

Why is colposcopy done? Colposcopy is done when cervical cancer screening test results show abnormal changes in the cervix cells. Colposcopy provides more information about the abnormal cells. Colposcopy also may be used to assess other problems, including further

  • genital warts on the cervix
  • cervicitis (an inflamed cervix)
  • benign (not cancer) growths, such as polyps
  • pain
  • bleeding

Sometimes colposcopy may need to be done more than once. It also can be used to check the result of treatment.

How is the procedure performed?
Colposcopy is typically done in your ob-gyn’s office.

The procedure is best done when a woman is not having her period. This gives the ob-gyn a better view of the cervix. For at least 24 hours before the test, you should not

  • douche
  • use tampons
  • use vaginal medications
  • have sex

As with a pelvic exam, you will lie on your back with your feet raised and placed on the footrests for support. A speculum will be used to hold apart the vaginal walls so that the inside of the vagina and the cervix can be seen. The colposcope is placed just outside the opening of your vagina.

A mild solution will be applied to your cervix and vagina with a cotton swab or cotton ball. This liquid makes abnormal areas on the cervix easier to see. You may feel a slight burning.

When is a biopsy done during colposcopy?
During colposcopy, your ob-gyn may see abnormal areas. A biopsy of these areas may be done. A small piece of tissue is removed from the cervix during a biopsy. The sample is removed with a particular device.

Cells also may be taken from the canal of the cervix. A particular device is used to collect the cells. This is called endocervical curettage.

What should I expect during recovery?
If you have a colposcopy without a biopsy, you should feel fine right away. You can do the things you usually do. You may have a minor spotting for a couple of days.

If you have a colposcopy with a biopsy, you may have pain and discomfort for 1 or 2 days. Over-the-counter pain medications can be helpful. You may have some vaginal bleeding. You also may have a dark discharge for a few days. This may occur from a drug used to help stop bleeding at the biopsy site. You may need to wear a sanitary pad until the discharge stops.

Your ob-gyn may suggest you limit your activity for a brief time. While the cervix heals, you will be told not to put anything into your vagina for a short time. Follow these guidelines:

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

The tissue will be studied in a lab if a biopsy is taken. When the results come back from the lab, your ob-gyn will discuss them. Depending on the results, you may need more frequent cervical cancer screening or further testing or treatments.

When should I call my ob-gyn?
Call your ob-gyn 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
  • Chills

Colposcopy is a way of looking at the cervix through a particular magnifying device called a colposcope. It shines a light into the vagina and onto the cervix. A colposcope can significantly enlarge the standard view. This exam allows an obstetrician-gynecologist (ob-gyn) to find problems that cannot be seen by the eye alone.

Why is colposcopy done?

Colposcopy is done when cervical cancer screening test results show abnormal changes in the cervix cells. Colposcopy provides more information about the abnormal cells. Colposcopy also may be used to assess other problems, including further

  • genital warts on the cervix
  • cervicitis (an inflamed cervix)
  • benign (not cancer) growths, such as polyps
  • pain
  • bleeding

Sometimes colposcopy may need to be done more than once.

It also can be used to check the result of treatment. The procedure is best done when a woman is not having her period. This gives the ob-gyn a better view of the cervix. 

As with a pelvic exam, you will lie on your back with your feet raised and placed on the footrests for support. A speculum will be used to hold apart the vaginal walls so that the inside of the vagina and the cervix can be seen. The colposcope is placed just outside the opening of your vagina.

A mild solution will be applied to your cervix and vagina with a cotton swab or cotton ball. This liquid makes abnormal areas on the cervix easier to see. You may feel a slight burning.

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