ColposcopyColposcopy is an in-office procedure done when cervical cancer screening tests reveal abnormal changes in the cervical cells.

What is Colposcopy?

Colposcopy uses a magnifying device called a colposcope. The lighted device is focused on the cervix to identify abnormalities not detected by the normal eye.

Colposcopy is usually performed following abnormal screening results that show changes in the cells of the cervix. Your gynecologist may use colposcopy to evaluate problems such as:

  • Genital warts on the cervix
  • Undiagnosed pain
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Polyps
  • Cervicitis
  • Cervical cell changes or cervical cancer

Preparing for Colposcopy

Colposcopy will likely be performed by your OBGYN. It should ideally be done when you are not having your menstrual period. For 24 hours prior to the test, you should avoid the following:

  • Douching
  • Tampon use
  • Use of vaginal medications
  • Sexual intercourse

How Colposcopy is Performed

During the procedure, you will be asked to lie flat on your back and place your feet in foot supports. Your gynecologist will insert a speculum into your vagina and the colposcope will illuminate the cervix.

A solution is then applied to the cervix using a cotton ball or swab to make it easier to visualize any abnormal areas. Some women experience a slight burning sensation with the solution.

Any abnormal areas spotted during colposcopy may be biopsied. To biopsy, your gynecologist will use a special instrument to remove a small tissue sample from the cervix.

An endocervical curettage (ECC) may also be performed to collect cells for further evaluation. During an ECC, a sample of cells is scraped from the endocervical canal using an instrument called a curette.

Colposcopy Recovery

It’s normal for women to experience a small amount of bleeding after colposcopy, particularly if a biopsy was performed.

Following biopsy, there may be mild pain or discomfort for 1 to 2 days. This is usually relieved with over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen.

Spotting followed by dark discharge for a few days is normal, but report any heavy vaginal bleeding, severe pain, fever or chills to your OBGYN immediately. You may also have a dark, coffee ground like discharge; this is due to the substance applied to your cervix in an effort to reduce bleeding from the biopsy site(s).

Do not have sex, douche or use tampons until your gynecologist clears you to do so.