Colposcopy is a way of looking at the cervix through a special magnifying device called a colposcope. A colposcope can enlarge the normal view by two to 60 times.
Reasons for Colposcopy
Colposcopy is done when a Pap test shows changes that could lead to cancer.
Colposcopy also may be used to further assess certain problems:

  1. Genital warts on the cervix
  2. Cervicitis (an inflamed cervix)
  3. Benign (not cancer) growths, such as polyps
  4. Pain
  5. Bleeding

The Procedure
Colposcopy is done like a Pap test in a doctor’s office. You may be referred to another doctor or to a special clinic to have it done.
Colposcopy may involve taking pictures of your vagina and cervix.
The procedure is best done when a woman is not having her period.
During colposcopy, the doctor may see abnormal areas. A biopsy of these areas may be done.

If a biopsy was taken, it will be studied in a lab. When biopsy results come back from the lab, your doctor will discuss them with you.

If you have a colposcopy without a biopsy, you should feel fine right away.

If you have a colposcopy with a biopsy, your vagina may feel sore for one or two days. You may have some vaginal bleeding. You also may have a dark discharge for a few days.

Finally …
A Pap test is a good way to find changes that could become cancer. Colposcopy will give you even more information. In most cases, abnormal results are not cancer.

This excerpt from ACOG’s Patient Education Pamphlet is provided for your information. It is not medical advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for visiting your doctor. If you need medical care, have any questions, or wish to receive the full text of this Patient Education Pamphlet, please contact your obstetrician-gynecologist.

To ensure the information is current and accurate, ACOG titles are reviewed every 18 months.

Copyright © November 2007 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists