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