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Colposcopy

A detailed examination of the cervix (the neck of the womb)

A colposcopy is a procedure to examine the cervix with a microscope and identify any abnormal cells

About

If you've had an abnormal smear test, your consultant will probably recommend a colposcopy. This involves using a bright light and a microscope to look at your cervix and closely examine any unusual or potentially pre-cancerous cells. Your consultant may also take a biopsy to confirm any diagnosis.

Need to know

  • What happens icon plus

    During the procedure, you'll lie back in a chair with padded supports for your legs. Just like during a smear test, a device called a speculum will be inserted into your vagina and opened gently. This allows your consultant to examine the cells of your cervix using a special microscope called a colposcope. A biopsy (a small sample of tissue) may be taken to diagnose any potential problems. If your consultant can see any obviously abnormal cells, they may remove these straightaway using a technique known as large loop excision (LLETZ). The entire procedure usually takes between 10 and 20 minutes.
  • How to prepare icon plus

    Your consultant will explain the procedure to you and answer any questions you may have. You should avoid having sex or using tampons or any vaginal creams or medications for at least 24 hours before your colposcopy. Before the procedure, you'll be asked for the date of the first day of your last period. It may not be possible to have a colposcopy if you are having your period on the day of your appointment. Please let your consultant know in advance if you need to reschedule. Like all procedures, there may be some risks and side effects involved. Your consultant will explain these to you.
  • Afterwards icon plus

    The procedure itself won't take much longer than a normal smear test, and you'll be able to go home right after your appointment. If you've had a biopsy or excision, you may have a small amount of bleeding or discharge. You may want to wear a pantyliner for a day or two after your appointment. Your consultant will follow up with any results. If a biopsy confirms that you need treatment, you'll be invited back for a large loop excision (LLETZ) to remove the abnormal cells. Your consultant will let you know what to expect.

Our consultants

We're proud to work with leading experts across a range of medical fields, whose skills are matched by their integrity and compassion.
Consultant in theatres

Our facilities

From complex surgery to straightforward procedures, we provide exceptional care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

  • London Bridge Hospital

    London Bridge Hospital

    27 Tooley Street

    London

    SE1 2PR

    Appointments & Enquiries 020 7234 2009
    Imaging Appointments 020 7234 2773

  • The Portland Hospital

    The Portland Hospital

    205 - 209 Great Portland Street

    London

    W1W 5AH

    Children's enquiries 020 7390 8020
    Maternity enquiries 020 7390 6068
    Gynaecology enquiries 020 7390 6200

  • HCA UK at The Wilmslow Hospital

    52-54 Alderley Road

    Wilmslow

    SK9 1NY

    Appointments 020 7483 5148
    General enquiries 01615 160 961

  • The Wellington Hospital - South Building

    The Wellington Hospital

    Wellington Place

    London NW8 9LE

    Appointments 020 7483 5148
    General enquiries 020 7586 5959
    Post COVID Recovery service 020 7483 5348

  • The Lister Hospital

    Chelsea Bridge Road

    London

    SW1W 8RH

    Appointments 020 7730 8298
    General enquiries 020 7730 7733

  • The HSC exterior

    The Harley Street Clinic

    35 Weymouth Street

    London  W1G 8BJ

    Appointments 020 7935 7700
    General enquiries 020 7034 8181
    Post COVID Recovery service 020 7034 6602

  • The Princess Grace Hospital

    42-52 Nottingham Place

    London W1U 5NY

    Appointments 020 7908 8001
    General enquiries 020 7486 1234

Request an appointment

We're happy to help you make an appointment with one of our experienced consultants.

020 7079 4344
This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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