Colposcopy

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

A colposcopy is a simple 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.

Don't wait, pay for yourself

We offer this procedure at a fixed price at some of our facilities.

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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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