A colposcopy is a simple procedure that lets your doctor get a good look at your cervix. The exam takes 5 to 10 minutes, and is a lot like getting a Pap smear. One of the biggest differences is your doctor uses a special magnifying instrument called a colposcope.You usually get a colposcopy if you had some sort of abnormal results on your Pap test so your doctor can further diagnose any problems.

How Is It Done?

Your doctor will have you lie on an exam table, and she’ll use a speculum to keep your vagina open. Next she’ll dab a cotton swab in a vinegar-like solution and use it to wipe your cervix and vagina. It may burn a little, but it’ll help her see any cells that don’t look normal.Then, she’ll use the colposcope to examine your cervix and vulva.

How Do I Prepare?

Don’t put anything inside your vagina — like creams. This will make it hard for your doctor to see your cervix. And don’t use tampons or have vaginal intercourse for a few days before.Call your doctor to reschedule if your period is heavy on the day of your appointment. And let her know if you’re taking medicines that thin your blood. These could cause heavy bleeding during your procedure, especially if you have a biopsy, which is the removal of a tiny piece of tissue for testing.Lastly, let your doctor know if you’re pregnant. You can still have a colposcopy, but she’ll probably choose not to do a biopsy.

When is colposcopy done?

Your doctor may recommend that you have colposcopy if:

  • You have a Pap smear that shows some abnormal cells.
  • You have an irritated area on your cervix or vagina.
  • You are having unexplained cervical or vaginal bleeding.
  • Your mother took diethylstilbestrol (DES) while she was pregnant with you. The daughters of women who took DES during pregnancy are at greater risk of developing certain kinds of vaginal and cervical cancer.


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