Colposcopy

What Is It?

Colposcopy is an examination of a woman's vagina and cervix using a colposcope, a portable instrument with a light source and magnifying lenses. This instrument lets your doctor examine the cervix and vagina for cancer and abnormal areas that may become cancer. Colposcopy takes about 15 to 30 minutes and doesn't require anesthesia.

What It's Used For

Doctors use colposcopy to check for cervical cancer or precancerous changes after an abnormal Pap test or as a follow-up procedure to view an abnormal area seen during an earlier gynecological examination. During colposcopy, your doctor can remove a sample of tissue from the cervix for testing (biopsy).

Preparation

You don't have to do anything special to prepare for colposcopy, except that your doctor may ask you not to take aspirin for a week before the procedure. Don't douche or use vaginal creams or medications the day before the procedure. However, because you will need to remove your clothing from the waist down, consider wearing a two-piece outfit with slacks or a skirt. Also, because you may have some mild vaginal bleeding in case the doctor performs a biopsy, bring a sanitary napkin to wear after the procedure.

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