A colposcopy is a quick procedure carried out using an instrument called a colposcope to study your cervix to see if there are any abnormal cells, or to take a biopsy of your cervix.
A colposcopy is performed as a day case procedure, which means there is no need for an overnight stay in hospital. The procedure is usually performed by your consultant, or a specialist nurse trained in this area.
You may be asked to change into a hospital gown. Then you will be asked to lie down on a special couch with supports to rest your legs on. A speculum will be used to hold open your vagina (similar to that used during a smear test). The colposcope is an instrument which has a special magnifying glass and light attached to it, which is used to look at your cervix. The colposcope remains outside your body. A special solution may be applied to your cervix to assist the doctor in visualising the abnormal cells. This may cause a slight burning sensation.
A biopsy of your cervix may be taken. The biopsy may feel a little uncomfortable, but will soon pass and you can take paracetamol or ibuprofen to give you pan relief.
A colposcopy usually takes around five minutes, but may last longer if required.
Before your colposcopy, you should refrain from sex for the 24 hours beforehand, as well as avoiding using tampons, lubricants, or creams.
If you are due on your period on the day of the procedure, please inform us as in some cases the procedure may not be able to go ahead.
It is advisable to bring either a panty liner or a sanitary towel to wear after your procedure as you may experience discharge or light bleeding.
You will be able to continue as normal after a colposcopy, including driving. You may have slight discharge for a few days after the procedure, and if a biopsy has been taken you may also have light bleeding too.
As with all procedures, there are some side effects and potential risks. Your doctor will discuss any risks with you beforehand.