This procedure is most often performed on women after they have experienced an abnormal pap smear during a gynecological visit or if a cervical cancer screen has abnormal results. During a colposcopy, the doctor uses a device, called a colposcope, to look closely and examine the cervix, vagina, and vulva. The colposcope magnifies these areas so the doctor can search for anything that looks abnormal.
A biopsy may be taken if a problem is detected. A biopsy is when a sample of skin is removed in order to perform lab tests to determine if there is any sort of abnormality. In the case of a biopsy during a colposcopy, a piece of tissue will be removed from the cervix.
This procedure can be performed within a doctor’s office or a specialized clinic. It does not require a hospital visit. The procedure begins much like a regular pelvic exam during a woman’s annual visit to the OB-GYN. She will lie on her back, with her feet on the foot rests. The doctor
inserts a speculum to pull apart the vaginal walls in order to insert the colposcope. A solution is applied to the cervix and vagina that helps the doctor to see any areas of the cervix that may be abnormal. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, this procedure is preferably done when a woman is not menstruating. She should also refrain from using tampons or any vaginal medications, douching, or having sex for 24 hours before the examination.
Colposcopy procedures are not only used for assessing abnormal changes in the cervix, but also for pain or bleeding, genital warts on the cervix, inflammation of the cervix, also known as Cervicitis, benign growths like polyps, or to check up on the result or condition of a vaginal treatment.