Frequently Asked Colposcopy Questions

What is a Colposcopy?

If your pap smear has come back abnormal, your healthcare provider may recommend a colposcopy. A colposcopy is a procedure your doctor may perform in the office that will closely examine what your cervix looks like. Using a colposcope, a special magnifying instrument, your doctor will look to see if there are changes on the surface of your cervix.

What should I expect during my Colposcopy visit?
  • During your visit, your doctor will start by placing a speculum, just as they have done for the pap smear. Your doctor will then use the colposcope, which is placed just outside the vagina, and look at the cervix.
  • Your doctor will then apply a vinegar or iodine solution to your cervix, which will help any abnormal cells stand out. The solution may feel like a cold sensation when applied.
  • If any abnormal areas stand out to your doctor he or she may then decide to take a biopsy, or small sample, of the tissue. During the biopsy, you may feel some cramping or pressure. Once the small sample has been removed from the cervix, it is then sent to the lab to be examined.
  • Because the cervical canal cannot be visualized, to detect any problems beyond the outside of the cervix, your doctor may then use an instrument to rub the cervical canal to collect cells. This process is called endocervical curettage. This again will feel like further cramping.

The entire procedure will typically take no more than 20 minutes. Cramping during the procedure is normal.

What if I have my period on the day of the Colposcopy?
This procedure cannot be done effectively if you are bleeding in any way. You must cancel your appointment if you are bleeding on the day of the procedure.
Will the Colposcopy be painful?
Because a colposcopy may require that biopsies be taken, we encourage you to take (2) Advil a half hour before your appointment (unless you are allergic). The amount of discomfort varies from patient to patient, with mild cramping at the time of the biopsy being the most common complaint.
Can I shave prior to the Colposcopy?
Because the doctor will be applying a solution that may cause a burning sensation to freshly shaved skin, it is recommended you do not shave your pubic area for at least three days prior to this procedure.
Can I resume normal activities after the Colposcopy?

Yes, you will be able to return to your normal activities immediately after this procedure. Discuss with your doctor any limitations on intercourse he or she may request. It is recommended to not use any tampons for about a week after the procedure.

Will I have bleeding after the Colposcopy?
You can expect some vaginal bleeding or spotting that lasts 2-3 days after a biopsy is taken. It can sometimes resemble dark coffee ground- like material. This is normal and comes from the medication used to stop the initial bleeding. Call the office if you experience heavy bleeding (soaking a pad every half hour).
When will I get my results from the Colposcopy?

You will receive a call or MyChart message from your doctor about one week after your colposcopy to discuss results and treatment plan. If you do not hear from us, please call.

Is the Colposcopy a common procedure?
Try not to worry, this is a common procedure done to prevent any future possibility of cervical disease. If you have further questions, please call us, and we will be happy to speak with you.

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