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A colposcopy is a procedure to look for abnormal cells in your cervix and vagina. Your healthcare provider will use a colposcope, which is a small scope with a light on it.


Before your procedure:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • Local anesthesia: You may need local anesthesia if you need a biopsy. This medicine will numb the area and dull your pain. You may still feel pressure or pushing during the procedure.

During your procedure:

  • Your healthcare provider will ask you to lie on a table. You will bend your knees and put your feet in stirrups. Your healthcare provider will insert a tool called a speculum into your vagina. This tool will hold your vagina open so that he may see your cervix more clearly.
  • The colposcope is placed just outside of your vagina. Your healthcare provider will use a cotton ball or swab to wipe any mucus from your cervix. Your healthcare provider will put a liquid on your cervix. This liquid helps your healthcare provider see the difference between your normal and abnormal cells. If your healthcare provider sees abnormal tissues or cells, he will do a biopsy. If you have a biopsy, you may be given anesthesia medicine to numb your cervix. During a biopsy, your healthcare provider will remove cells from both normal and abnormal areas of your cervix. He will send these cells to a lab for testing.

After your procedure:

Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. Your healthcare provider will tell you when you can go home.


  • During colposcopy, you may feel pain or discomfort as the speculum is put into your vagina. After your colposcopy, you may have stomach pain. You may get an infection after the procedure. Your cervix or vagina may bleed during or after the procedure. A colposcopy or biopsy may not find all of the abnormal cells.
  • If you do not have a colposcopy, you will not know if you have abnormal cells on your cervix. These abnormal cells may grow into cancer. This can be life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

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