Colposcopy

What is a colposcopy?

A colposcopy is an examination using a magnifying device to have a more detailed look at the cervix. The procedure is similar to having a Pap smear and takes around 10 to 15 minutes. It shouldn’t cause any more discomfort than having a smear.

The colposcope is a magnifying instrument that enables the specialist to find any changes in the cells and to determine the extent of the changes. The colposcope doesn’t come in contact with your body and is only used for a magnified view of the cervix.

Why do I need a colposcopy?

You’ll be asked to have a colposcopy if you have:

  • received an abnormal Pap smear result
  • abnormal bleeding from the cervix, particularly after having sex


An abnormal Pap smear result doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer. Most changes that show up on a Pap smear aren’t cancerous or will clear up by themselves. It is, however, important to have a colposcopy so a gynaecologist can examine the cervix more closely to check the changes. 

As a Sydney gynaecologist and colposcopy specialist, I’ve performed colposcopies for 20+ years. I understand the anxiety you may feel as you come in for a colposcopy and will answer any questions you may have before the examination. 

How do I prepare for a colposcopy?

Please make sure you’re not having your period at the time of the colposcopy as I can’t see the cervix well if you’re bleeding. If necessary, rebook your appointment by calling 02 9134 5853.

It’s recommended to have a light meal prior to the colposcopy to ensure you don’t have a completely empty stomach as you may become dizzy after the procedure.

It’s rare for women to feel slightly dizzy or nauseous after the procedure, but rest assured, we’ll keep you in our Rooms until you’re feeling well and ready to go home.

What can I expect during the colposcopy?

This may be the first time you’ll be having a colposcopy and you’re wondering what to expect. Knowing what’s involved can help reduce your anxiety.

Where

I perform the colposcopy in our Rooms in Bondi Junction, Sydney. 

How long

The colposcopy only takes 10-15 minutes and you’ll be able to go back to work or straight home after the procedure.

Examination

  • You’ll be given a sheet to cover you from the waist down. The procedure is similar to having a Pap smear and requires a speculum to examine the cervix.
  • The examination may involve a repeat cervical test or Pap smear, depending on the reason for your colposcopy. 
  • The cervix is dabbed with vinegar to help identify any abnormal areas. Most women don’t find this painful though it may sting a little. Sometimes we use a brown liquid called iodine to further identify abnormal cells. Please let me know if you’re allergic to iodine.
  • The colposcope is used to see the area and pattern of abnormal cells.
  • We may take a biopsy or small tissue sample from any areas that appear abnormal. The biopsy feels like a small pinch and you may experience mild period-like pain for a short time.
  • The biopsy sample is sent to a pathologist who’ll check it under a microscope.

What happens after a colposcopy?

It’s normal to have a small amount of spotting or slight vaginal discharge for a few days. 

To protect yourself from infection, we advise that for 2-3 days after the test you: 

  • don’t use tampons or douches
  • don’t have sex
  • avoid swimming or bathing (showering is fine)

The results of the biopsy are usually available in 2-3 days. 

Based on the results of the biopsy, we may recommend you:

  • go back to your GP for further Pap tests 
  • return to our Rooms for another colposcopy in several months
  • require treatment for changes found on the biopsy

This treatment could be in the form of: 

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