Colposcopy is done when results of a Pap smear show abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix and/or the presence of HPV (human papilloma virus). Colposcopy is a way of looking at the cervix through a special magnifying device called a colposcope. It shines a light into the vagina and onto the cervix. The colposcope enlarges the normal view and allows the healthcare practitioner to f identify abnormalities that cannot be seen by the eye alone. Colposcopy provides more information about the abnormal cells.
Colposcopy is done in our office. The procedure is best performed when a woman is not having her menstrual period. For at least twenty-four hours before the test, you should not douche, use tampons, use vaginal medications, or have sex. As with a pelvic exam, you will lie on your back with your feet raised and placed on foot rests for support. A speculum will be used to hold apart the vaginal walls so that the healthcare practitioner can see the inside of the vagina and the cervix. The colposcope is placed just outside the opening of your vagina. The healthcare practitioner will apply a mild vinegar solution to your cervix and vagina with a cotton swab or cotton ball. This makes abnormal areas on the cervix easier to see.
During colposcopy, your provider may see abnormal areas and perform a biopsy of these areas. During a biopsy, a small piece of tissue is removed from the cervix using a special device. Cells also may be taken from the canal of the cervix. A special device is used to collect the cells, which is called endocervical curettage. After you have a colposcopy procedure, your vagina may feel slightly sore for a couple of days. Over-the-counter pain medications can be helpful.
If you also have a biopsy, you may experience discomfort and cramping during the procedure. Afterward, you may spot or have a dark-colored vaginal discharge. You may need to wear a pad or panty liner until the discharge stops.