What is a colposcopy?

Colposcopy is a procedure to closely examine your cervix and vagina for abnormalities. It is usually recommended by a physician after abnormal Pap smear results to evaluate for precancerous cells.

How do I prepare for a colposcopy?

To prepare for a colposcopy, we recommend that you:

  • Avoid scheduling your colposcopy during your period
  • Do not have unprotected sexual intercourse two weeks before your colposcopy
  • Use a reliable form of birth control to reduce the risk of pregnancy before your colposcopy
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen before going to your appointment

What happens during a colposcopy?

A colposcopy usually takes around 10 - 20 minutes and is preformed in an exam room. You will be asked to undress from the waist down.  Using a speculum, your cervix and vagina will be examined and different solutions will be applied to your cervix and vagina with a long Q-tip. The solutions help highlight abnormal cells.
Next, your physician will use a device called a colposcope (which is similar to a microscope) to look at your cervix and surrounding areas. If your physician identifies any suspicious areas, they may take a small sample of tissue, known as a biopsy, to send to a laboratory for further evaluation.  A special tool is also used to collect cells from the inside of your cervix.  Most patients tolerate a colposcopy very well with only mild cramping during the exam.

What happens after a colposcopy?

Mild cramping after a colposcopy is normal.  Patients may take ibuprofen or Tylenol as needed following the colposcopy and are encouraged to avoid intercourse as well as using tampons for a few days to decrease the risk of infection.  Many women have spotting after a colposcopy and need to wear a panty liner.  We have panty liners at our office, so you do not need to bring one.  Biopsy results usually take 5-7 business days to come back and your physician will contact you to review results and discuss future management plans.