Cervix Biopsy - Colposcopy

This procedure involves an exam of the vagina and cervix with a binocular-like instrument called a colposcope.

This procedure involves an exam of the vagina and cervix with a binocular-like instrument called a colposcope.

A colposcopy is an examination of the vagina and cervix (the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vaginal canal). The examination is done using a binocular-like instrument called a colposcope. A colposcope has a magnifying lens and bright light, which helps your healthcare provider see inside the vagina.

  • Your healthcare provider may recommend a colposcopy if you have had an abnormal Pap smear or pelvic exam.
  • During a colposcopy, a sample of the abnormal tissue may be removed using small forceps or a special needle.

Colposcopy is used to help find and evaluate abnormal vaginal or cervical tissue. It can also be done as a follow-up for women who are at high risk for cervical cancer or have been treated for cervical cancer. Routine colposcopies may be recommended for women who were exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES) before birth. DES is a synthetic form of estrogen that is linked to precancerous and cancerous lesions of the vagina and cervix.

Prior to the procedure, tell your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking (including over-the-counter medications and supplements). Ask about specific instructions to follow before and after the procedure. These include:

  • Medications you should not take before the procedure, such as blood thinners
  • Regular medications you should continue to take on the day of your procedure
  • Activities you should not participate in before or after the procedure (such as sexual activity, douching or using tampons or vaginal medications)

No other preparation is usually necessary. Colposcopies are not normally done during your period or if you have an infection of the cervix or vagina.

In most cases, a colposcopy can be done in a healthcare provider's office. However, it may need to be performed in a procedure room with medication to help you relax. Your specific circumstances will determine where you will have the procedure.

  • To make it more comfortable, empty your bladder and bowels before the procedure.
  • You will be positioned on the examination table as you are during a Pap smear or pelvic examination. A speculum will be inserted into your vagina. Your cervix will be covered with a solution to remove mucous and decrease the chance of infection. It may also be numbed with a medication.
  • A biopsy of any suspicious tissue may be taken and sent to the lab for further testing. Or, if your Pap smear was abnormal, but the colposcopy showed a normal cervix, a biopsy may be taken.
  • In most cases, a colposcopy is uncomfortable, but not painful. When a sample is taken, you may feel a pinching. Taking slow deeps breaths can help you relax.
  • Having cramping and slight bleeding after the biopsy is common.

What should I ask my healthcare provider before having a colposcopy?

  • What is my diagnosis and reason for the procedure?
  • Do I need to fast before the procedure and, if so, for how long? Is there any other special preparation for the procedure? (If so, get clear instructions on what you need to do.)
  • Will I have any type of sedation? What are the possible side effects?
  • Are there any alternatives to this procedure?
  • Should I take a pain reliever before the procedure? If so, what should I take?
  • When will I receive my test results and what will they tell me? Will I need further testing?
  • What symptoms should I watch for after the procedure? What is normal? What is abnormal?
  • How do I reach you after hours if I have unexpected problems?
  • When can I begin to use tampons again and have sex?

After your colposcopy, your healthcare provider should provide information about any problems found during the procedure and what he or she did to address them. Your healthcare provider will also tell you about symptoms to watch for and which ones to report to the office. It is also important to understand all home care instructions (including medications and side effects) and follow-up plans.

Source UHC.com

Also known as:

Cervix Biopsy - Colposcopy

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