Gynaecological examination bed with stirrups for cervical smear test

Your doctor may want to do a colposcopy to check for cancer cells in your cervix, vagina or vulva.  

A colposcopy uses a bright light and a colposcope, which is a large magnifying glass or binoculars that help the doctor to closely check for any abnormal changes. It can be linked up to a computer screen.

Before the test

Ask your doctor if you need to do anything before the test. For example, you may be advised to stop using tampons and vaginal creams and to stop having vaginal sex for a day or two before the test. Tell your doctor if you might be pregnant.

During the test

A speculum is placed in your vagina to open it up, like when you have cervical screening. The doctor uses the colposcope to look inside your body through the speculum. The colposcope does not touch or go inside you.

Your doctor may take a sample of cells (biopsy) during the colposcopy. This sample will be examined in a laboratory to see if it contains cancer cells.

Does it hurt?

Having the speculum put in can be a little uncomfortable. You might feel a pinching or cramping feeling if you doctor decides to take a biopsy sample.

How long does it take?

About 10-15 minutes.

After the test

You might have some bleeding after the test or feel a little sore. If you have a biopsy you might have a dark vaginal discharge for a few days. You shouldn’t have vaginal sex or use products that go inside your vagina until your doctor says it’s OK.

Are there any risks or side-effects?

Colposcopy is generally safe, but let your doctor know if you have heavy bleeding, pain or a high temperature.

For more information

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1800 200 700

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