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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:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.
  • Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
  • Your healthcare provider will ask about your health history. He will ask you if you have bleeding problems now or have had them in the past. He will ask you if you take any medicines, including birth control pills. Tell your healthcare provider if you have an infection or disease in your vagina. Always tell your healthcare provider if you know or think you may be pregnant. Also tell your healthcare provider if you have ever given birth.
  • Your healthcare provider may test your blood or urine to see if you are pregnant. He also may check your blood for human papilloma virus (HPV) which may cause abnormal cells. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about tests that you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.

The day of your procedure:

  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.


What will happen:

  • 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 the 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.


  • You cannot make it to your colposcopy on time.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have your monthly period.


  • 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.

Care Agreement

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.