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What is a Colposcopy?

A colposcopy is performed by your gynecological specialist. This procedure is used to magnify and closely examine the vulva, vagina and cervix. A colposcopy is generally recommended when a Pap test comes back with abnormal results. Abnormal Pap results are often the result of HPV, or the human papillomavirus. The colposcopy procedure allows your doctor to carefully inspect the tissues in your vagina and cervix and look for problems that may not be caught with the naked eye. If your doctor sees a questionable area, the tissue is biopsied and sent to the pathologist.

What to Expect During the Procedure

The colposcopy procedure is performed in the doctor’s office. It is recommended that nothing be inserted in the vagina for 24 hours before the procedure including tampons, douches and sexual intercourse. The procedure should take approximately 15 minutes and may involve some of the following steps:

  • Your doctor will explain to you the reason you are having this test and walk you through the procedure during the actual procedure.
  • The magnifying, lighted scope will be inserted into your vagina to examine it as well as the cervix.
  • The doctor will determine what areas of tissue need to be sampled (which may be more than one area) and collect the samples with a small tool called a curette.
  • Your tissue samples will then be sent to a pathologist for further analyzation.


The results of the colposcopy will take several days up to a week to return. A colposcopy gives you and your doctor more information if you have an abnormal result from a Pap test. Abnormal results may indicate you have a precancerous condition in which case early treatment is most beneficial.