Colposcopy: A Closer View

Colposcopy: A Closer ViewColposcopy is a simple procedure that lets your doctor take a better look at your cervix, vagina, and vulva for signs of disease. It’s a quick and easy way to find cell changes in your cervix that may not be seen by the eyes alone. Let’s take a closer view of the colposcopy procedure.

Why is Colposcopy Done?

When the results of cervical screening (pap smear) tests show abnormal changes in the cervix cells, a colposcopy provides more information about the abnormal cells. This procedure can also assess other issues, including:

  • Genital warts on the cervix
  • Cervicitis (an inflamed cervix)
  • Benign (not cancer) growths, such as polyps
  • Pain
  • Abnormal bleeding

Sometimes the colposcopy procedure may need to be done more than once. For example, you can also use it to check the result of treatment.

The Procedure: What to Expect:

You’ll lie down on an exam table like you would for a pelvic exam. Your provider will insert a speculum into your vagina and open it. The speculum separates the walls of your vagina so they can get a really good look at your cervix. Then, they’ll wash your cervix with a vinegar-like solution, which makes it easier to see abnormal cells. Next, they’ll look at your cervix through a colposcope.

The colposcope is an instrument that looks like binoculars on a stand with a bright light. The colposcope won’t touch you or go inside you. If your provider sees something that doesn’t look normal, they’ll take a tiny sample of tissue and send it to a lab.

There are two types of biopsies:

  • One takes tissue from outside your cervix.
  • The other takes tissue from inside the opening of your cervix.

Sometimes you need more than one biopsy. A colposcopy and biopsy only take around 5-10 minutes to complete. Before you leave your appointment, ask your doctor when you can expect the results. The results of your colposcopy will determine whether you’ll need any further testing and treatment.

An Abnormal Pap Result Can Be Worrisome


Research studies may be an option if you’ve been told you need a colposcopy after an abnormal pap smear result. To learn more about colposcopy studies enrolling now at Women’s Health Care Research, call (858) 505-8672 or visit our website.