A colposcopy is a way of looking at the cervix through a special magnifying device called a colposcope. This device allows a doctor to see changes that suggest abnormal cells that cannot be seen by the eye alone. Sometimes, a colposcopy may need to be done more than once. It is best done when you are not having your period; and you will be instructed not to douche, use tampons, use vaginal medications or have sex 24 hours prior to the procedure for best visualization.

As with a pelvic exam, a speculum is used to spread the vaginal wall so the inside of the vagina and the cervix can be seen. The colposcope is placed near the entrance of the vagina; a mild solution will be wiped on the cervix with a cotton swab, allowing abnormal areas of the cervix to be seen.

If the doctor decides to do a biopsy, a small piece if tissue may be removed from the cervix or from the cervical canal with a special instrument. Depending on the results, you may need further testing or treatments.

You can resume regular activity, yet you may feel sore for 1-2 days. You may notice some vaginal bleeding or a dark brown discharge for a few days, requiring you to wear a sanitary pad. Do not put anything in the vagina for at least a week. Please call your doctor if you have any heavy bleeding, severe lower abdominal pain, fever, chills or foul smelling discharge.

You may want to take a pain reliever containing ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin) 600-800 mg 30-45 minutes before having the biopsy. You will need to sign a consent form that says you understand the risks of the procedure and agree to have the test done.