Colposcopy Examination -All you must know

'A Colposcope is a device that allows your gynecologist to accurately assess the cervix for abnormal cells'.


This is Dr. Manu, Consultant Gynecologist in Chennai, and in this awesome article, I am going to tell you everything about the colposcopy examination.

Colposcopy involves the usage of a device called the colposcope that allows an accurate assessment of the cervix. Its a quick and simple tool to help assess the presence of abnormal cancer cells in the cervix.

A colposcopy examination is usually recommended when the results of a PAP smear test turns out to be abnormal.

What does a colposcopy diagnose?

Colposcopic examination helps in the diagnosis of 

A. Warts

B. Cervical inflammation also called cervicitis

C. Precancerous changes in the tissues of the cervix, vulva, and vagina

What exactly happens during a colposcopy examination?

Your gynecologist will ask you to lie down flat on the examination table as always. A speculum will then be used to open up the vagina walls to get a good look at your cervical region

Next, the cervix will be washed, usually with a vinegar-based solution. The washing helps in better visualization of the abnormal cells.

The cervix is then visualized systematically with the help of a colposcope. A light will usually be shined inside the tract to aid visualization. 

Next, your gynecologist may suggest a biopsy in order to confirm the presence of the cancerous cells.

A biopsy will usually be taken from 2 places. One from outside the cervix and the other from inside the opening of the cervix.

A recent study on over 408 women suggested that for truly detecting cervical cancer with a 70% accuracy, at least 2 biopsies is a bare minimum during a colposcopic examination.

During the biopsy, you may feel a small pinch. More biopsies will usually be taken only if your doctor has a clinical suspicion of something abnormal.

The total procedure will last only about 15 minutes at best. Post-biopsy, patients may experience some pain or discomfort and sometimes light bleeding. 

Use of a simple pad to absorb the bleeding is adviced rather than tampons.

Risks of Colposcopy

Colposcopy is usually a very safe procedure when done right. Rare complications that can occur include

A. Heavy pain & 

B. Infection and associated pelvic pain

Preparations before undergoing Colposcopy

Colposcopy usually requires no major preparations. Your doctor may recommend that you 

1. Avoid the use of tampons 2 days before the actual procedure

2. Avoid the use of vaginal medications 2 days before the procedure

3. Take pain medication on the day of the procedure in consultation with your gynecologist

Anxiety Coping during Colposcopy

It is usually normal for most women to experience some form of anxiety during the colposcopy exam. 

The anxiety can make you feel generally nervous and uncomfortable. Moreover, the sensation of pain will be aggravated when anxiety kicks in. Some simple tips to cope with anxiety before a colposcopy exam would be to 

1. Listening to music 

2. Breathing exercises

3. Clearing all your doubts before the exam with your consultant. 

So, that about winds up our short article on Colposcopic exam. I hope you found the article useful. Please do kindly share this article with all your friends and loved ones


  1. Jeronimo J, Schiffman M. Colposcopy at a crossroads. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology. 2006 Aug 1;195(2):349-53.
  2. Gage JC, Hanson VW, Abbey K, Dippery S, Gardner S, Kubota J, Schiffman M, Solomon D, Jeronimo J. Number of cervical biopsies and sensitivity of colposcopy. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2006 Aug 1;108(2):264-72.


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