The purpose of colposcopy is to look with high magnification, at the cervix (the opening to the uterus), vulva or vagina. Most often women are referred to colposcopy after having an abnormal Pap test.


Colposcopy takes 15 to 20 minutes. Please register at the Systems Wide Administration and Discharge Department (SWADD) 30 minutes before your appointment.

Under magnification, the doctor can then see the changes in these tissues that may have produced the abnormal cells found on the Pap smear.

The examination takes place after a speculum has been placed in the vagina. The tissues are evaluated after an acetic acid solution is applied. If your gynecologist sees abnormal areas, small pinches of tissue (biopsy) will be taken for microscopic review in the laboratory. Some bleeding or spotting may be experienced after a biopsy is taken.

Most women who need a colposcopy do not have cancer. However, they may have a condition that has a potential to become cancer if left untreated. This condition has various names including: dysplasia, CIN (cervical intraepithelial neoplasm), and CIS (carcinoma-in-situ). These abnormalities are most often caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

Based on the results of the colposcopy and biopsy, your gynecologist will discuss the planned treatment options with you. The treatment will take into consideration your wishes for preservation of fertility as well as the abnormality of the affected area. Some women just need to continue to be seen in colposcopy to monitor the changes.

One option for treatment is the Loop Electrical Excision Procedure (LEEP), which removes the area of abnormality from the cervix and may also be done at the WHC.

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