Colposcopy Procedure | Women's Services | Loyola Medicine

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What Is a Colposcopy?

If you have had a Pap test that showed abnormal results, your doctor may want to perform a colposcopy. This is a procedure in which your doctor examines your cervix, vagina and vulva for signs of disease, including vaginal and vulvar cancer. During this procedure, your doctor may also want to take a sample of tissue (biopsy) to test for abnormal or cancerous cells.

What to Expect with a Colposcopy

This procedure is performed similarly to a Pap test, most likely in your doctor’s office, and will take between 10 and 20 minutes. Your doctor will insert a speculum into your vagina to hold your cervix open. He/she will then insert a small, lighted instrument called a colposcope to examine your vagina and look for any abnormal areas. He/she may also remove a sample of tissue for lab testing, called a biopsy. 

Side Effects of a Colposcopy

Depending on whether a biopsy was taken, you may experience some light spotting for a few days following a colposcopy. If a biopsy was performed, additional side effects include:

  • Vaginal pain for one to two days
  • Light spotting/bleeding for one to two days
  • Discharge from your vagina

You should avoid inserting anything in your vagina and vaginal intercourse for a week following this procedure. 

Risks of Colposcopy

You should expect a mild amount of pain and spotting/bleeding following a colposcopy. See your doctor if you experience any of the associated risks:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Infection
  • Severe pelvic or abdominal pain