A colposcopy is a special way of looking at the cervix. It uses a light and a low-powered microscope to make the cervix appear much larger. This helps your health care provider find and then biopsy abnormal areas in your cervix.
Colposcopy is done to detect cervical cancer and changes that may lead to cervical cancer.
It is most often done when you have had an abnormal Pap smear. It may also be recommended if you have bleeding after sexual intercourse.
Colposcopy may also be done when your health care provider sees abnormal areas on your cervix during a pelvic exam. These may include:
• Any abnormal growth on the cervix, or elsewhere in the vagina
• Genital warts or HPV
• Irritation or inflammation of the cervix (cervicitis)
The colposcopy may be used to keep track of HPV, and to look for abnormal changes that can come back after treatment.
How the Test is Performed
You will lie on a table and place your feet in stirrups, just like you would do for a pelvic exam. The health care provider will place an instrument (called a speculum) into your vagina . This allows your doctor to better see the cervix.
The health care provider will place the colposcope at the opening of the vagina and examines the area. Photographs may be taken. The colposcope does not touch you.
If any areas look abnormal, a small sample of the tissue will be removed using small biopsy tools. Many samples may be taken. Sometimes a tissue sample from inside the cervix is removed. This is called endocervical curettage (ECC).