A colposcopy helps to detect abnormal cells in the neck of the womb or cervix.

Diagnosis using colposcopy

A colposcopy is an examination of the neck of the womb (the cervix). It is done to look at abnormal cells that have been discovered in a smear test. A speculum is used, as it is in a routine smear test, but the colposcope that is used will be outside your body so that your gynaecologist can see the cervix. Therefore, it is not usual to use any anaesthetic in the process. A solution is gently applied to the cervix that will highlight abnormal cells.

During the examination, a sample of the tissue may need to be taken for further analysis or the abnormal cells may be removed. It is not a painful procedure but you may feel some discomfort.

Any more than this and you should tell your gynaecologist or nurse straightaway. Should your gynaecologist need to perform any further treatment during the process such as heat treatment, after discussion with you, a local anaesthetic may be used.

What to expect during a colposcopy

As with a routine smear test, the procedure will take place in a private room on an examination chair and you will be required to remove your clothing from the lower part of your body before the examination begins.

A colposcopy is usually a safe procedure but a small number of women may experience some bleeding after the procedure. Rarely, an infection may occur but this can usually be treated with antibiotics.

Your gynaecologist will explain to you any risks that apply to the procedure you will be having before it takes place.

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