Colposcopy is a procedure that uses a special microscope with a light at its end (called a colposcope ) to magnify your vagina and cervix (opening to womb).

The colposcopy magnifies or enlarges the image of the outer portion of the cervix. Sometimes a small sample of tissue is removed for further study (biopsy). The tissue samples help your doctor determine the treatment plan.

Why would a woman need a colposcopy?

Colposcopy is usually performed when you have an abnormal Pap test. Pap tests are done on a regular basis to screen for cancer of the cervix and other problems. Other reasons for performing colposcopy is when your doctor finds an abnormality of the cervix, vagina or vulva (flaps of skin and tissue covering the vaginal opening) during a pelvic exam.

How is colposcopy performed?

When you have a colposcopy, you will lie on an exam table just like you do when you have a regular pelvic exam. Your doctor uses an instrument called a speculum to spread the walls of the vagina apart. The colposcopy is then used to assess the vagina and cervix. It does not enter the vagina. Any problem areas are noted. If there are any areas of concern, your doctor may perform a biopsy. When this is done you may feel a slight pinch or cramp. The tissue is then sent to a laboratory for further study.

What happens after the procedure?

If a biopsy is performed, laboratory results should be ready in 2 to 3 weeks. You may feel a little lightheaded after colposcopy, and may have light bleeding after the biopsy. Talk to Harmony Women’s Clinic about how to take care of yourself after the procedure and when you need to return for a check-up.

What are the risks associated with colposcopy?

There is a very small risk of infection when you have a colposcopy. You may have mild pain and cramping during the procedure and light bleeding afterwards. If you have heavy bleeding, a fever, or severe pain after the procedure, you should contact Harmony Women’s Clinic right away.