During the exam your provider may take a sample of tissue (biopsy) for lab tests.
Colposcopy is most often done if you have had an abnormal Pap test result showing:
This exam may be done as part of a pelvic exam if your provider wants to get a closer look at an area of your vulva, vagina or cervix. It may also be done if you have had more than 1 test showing human papilloma virus (HPV) infection.
Tell your provider if you think you may be pregnant. Colposcopy can be done during pregnancy. However, your provider may wait to do a biopsy until after your baby is born.
Because the cervix feels little pain, you will not need an anesthetic.
You will lie on your back on the exam table with your knees bent and the heels of your feet in stirrup heel holders, just as you do for a regular pelvic exam. Your provider will put a speculum into your vagina. This is the same tool used during a Pap test. Your provider will open it slightly so the cervix can be seen. Your provider will use a swab to put a weak vinegar solution on your vulva, vagina, or cervix. You may feel a slight stinging from the liquid.
Your provider will put the colposcope at the opening of your vagina. When your provider looks through the colposcope into the vagina, he or she will be able to see your cervix as well as the vagina. The vinegar solution turns abnormal tissue white and shows abnormal blood vessels. It helps show where samples of tissue should be taken for a biopsy. Photographs may be taken. Your provider may use a tool to remove 1 or more small pieces of tissue for lab tests. The tissue is usually the size of a pinhead. You may feel a pinch or slight cramp. After the tissue is removed, your provider may put a thick, pasty solution on the area of the biopsy. This will help prevent bleeding.
Your provider may also take a small scraping from the inner canal of the cervix.
Tissue that was removed will be sent to the lab for tests.
Your healthcare provider will tell you what he or she saw. Test results should be ready in 1 to 2 weeks.
A few women feel a little lightheaded right after the exam and need to lie down for a few minutes after the exam is over. You may have some cramping for a short time.
You may have a little dark-colored, sandy discharge from the vagina for a few days after the procedure. If you had a biopsy, you may have light bleeding or spotting for up to a week. You may notice a thick black discharge after a biopsy, caused by the paste put on the biopsied area. When the paste mixes with blood, it forms a thick black discharge. This discharge may last for a few days.
If a biopsy was done, you should not douche or use tampons for 1 to 2 weeks while the area heals. Use a pad for any bleeding. Do not have sexual intercourse for 1 to 2 weeks after the biopsy. Your provider may ask you to avoid intercourse until you have had a chance to talk about the test results.
Ask your provider what other steps you should take and when you should come back for a checkup. If the results are normal, no treatment may be needed and your provider will tell you when to come back for your next Pap test or HPV test. However, if lab tests of the biopsy found abnormal cells, your provider may recommend a treatment for the type of problem that was found. This may involve the use of medicine, laser, or freezing treatments, or even surgery to remove the area of abnormal cells. Your provider should review all of your results and treatment options with you at your follow-up visit.
Benefits of this procedure are:
Minor bleeding from the biopsy site is common. You may also have mild cramping. Other risks include:
You should ask your healthcare provider how these risks might apply to you.
Call your provider right away if:
Call during office hours if:
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