​​A colposcopy examination takes a closer look at the cervix. Your doctor likely referred you to the Colposcopy Clinic because the results of your Pap test were abnormal. A colposcopy can help identify abnormal changes to the cervix and can help your doctor know if further treatment is necessary.

Colposcopy is similar to a Pap test. The doctor will insert a speculum into your vagina. A speculum is a metal device that is used to separate the walls of the vagina and allow the doctor to examine your cervix.

The doctor will examine your cervix using a special magnifying instrument called a colposcope. The colposcope does not enter your body. The doctor applies a small amount of vinegar to the cervix with a cotton swab. The vinegar helps identify any abnormal cells that may be present.

If there are any abnormal cells, the doctor will take one or more small tissue samples (biopsies) through the colposcope. A sample from the canal of the cervix may also be required to identify the source of the abnormal cells. This is called an endocervical curettage, or ECC. As the tissue sample is removed, some women feel a sensation similar to menstrual cramps. This may be uncomfortable, but it usually doesn’t last long. Most women feel very little. The whole procedure takes only a few minutes.

Abnormal cells in the cervix are most often caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is very common.

Last reviewed: 9/25/2018
Last modified: 1/2/2019 11:11 AM