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  • A colposcopy is a procedure to look for abnormal cells inside your cervix and vagina. Your cervix is the bottom part of your uterus (womb) that joins the top part of your vagina. Your cervix is made of different types of cells and there is a small opening in the middle of your cervix. You may need a colposcopy if you have abnormal cells on a screening test, such as a Pap smear. During colposcopy, your caregiver will use a microscope with a light on it, called a colposcope. The colposcope makes your cells look larger so your caregiver may better see them.

  • If your caregiver sees abnormal tissues or cells, he may do a biopsy. During a biopsy, cells are removed from your cervix or vagina and sent to a lab for testing. A biopsy may find cells with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN). CIN is a disease that may turn into cancer over time. If you have CIN, you may need to have these cells removed through surgery or another treatment. A colposcopy may show that you have abnormal cells in your cervix and vagina. It may help your caregiver decide if you need treatment and which treatment is right for you. Early treatment may prevent CIN from becoming worse and may help decrease your risk of getting cervical cancer.


  • Keep a current list of your medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Use vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.
  • Take your medicine as directed: Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him about any medicine allergies, and if you want to quit taking or change your medicine.
  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

  • It is important to see your caregiver for follow-up visits if you have abnormal cells in your vagina or cervix. Repeat colposcopy may show if you still have abnormal cells or if they have returned. If you have CIN, a colposcopy may show if it has become worse. You may need to have more than one follow-up colposcopy.
  • You may need treatment to remove abnormal cells. Your caregiver may do curettage, a procedure that cuts off the part of your cervix with the abnormal cells. Other treatments include surgery, freezing, or using a laser to remove the abnormal cells. Ask your caregiver for more information about treatments that you may need.


If you are pregnant, do not put anything in your vagina until your caregiver says it is okay. If you need treatment, you likely will have to wait until after your baby is born. Ask your caregiver when you should return for treatment.


Ask your caregiver when it is okay to use have sexual intercourse (sex). Also ask your caregiver when it is okay to use tampons.

Do not smoke:

Smoking causes lung cancer and other long-term lung diseases. It increases your risk of many cancer types. Smoking also increases your risk of blood vessel disease, heart attack, and vision disorders. Not smoking may help prevent such symptoms as headaches and dizziness for yourself and those around you. Smokers have shorter lifespans than nonsmokers.


  • You have questions about your colposcopy, condition, or care.
  • You have pain that does not go away, even after taking medicine to decrease it.
  • You have a fever (high body temperature).
  • You have spots of blood from your vagina on your underwear or toilet paper.


  • You have bleeding from your vagina that does not stop.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.