Colposcopy and Cervical Biopsy
How It Feels
You may feel some discomfort when the vaginal speculum is inserted.
You may feel a pinch and have some cramping if a biopsy sample is taken.
In rare cases, a cervical biopsy can cause an infection or
bleeding. Bleeding can usually be stopped by using a special liquid or swab on
After the test
If you have a biopsy, you may feel some soreness in your vagina for a day or two. Some
vaginal bleeding or discharge is normal for up to a week after a biopsy. The
discharge may be dark-colored if Monsel's solution was used. You can use a
sanitary pad for the bleeding. Do not douche, have sex, or use tampons for one
week, to allow time for your cervix to heal. Do not exercise for one day after
Follow any instructions your doctor gave you. Call your doctor if
- Heavy vaginal bleeding (more than a normal
- A fever.
- Bad-smelling vaginal discharge.
Colposcopy is a way for your doctor to use a special magnifying
device to look at your
Your doctor will talk to you about what he or she sees at the time
of the colposcopy. Lab results from a
biopsy may take several days or more.
Colposcopy and cervical biopsy
The vinegar or iodine does not show any areas of abnormal
tissue. The vagina and cervix look normal.
A biopsy sample does not show any abnormal
The vinegar or iodine shows areas of abnormal tissue. Sores
or other problems, such as
genital warts or an infection, are found in or around
the vagina or cervix.
A biopsy sample shows abnormal cells. This may mean
cervical cancer is present or likely to develop.
What Affects the Test
Reasons you may not be able to have the colposcopy or why the
results may not be helpful include:
- If you have sexual intercourse 24 hours before the colposcopy.
- The use of douches, tampons, or vaginal creams
or medicines 24 hours before the colposcopy.
- If you are having a
menstrual period at the time of the colposcopy.
- If a vaginal or
cervical infection is present.
- If you have gone through
menopause. Hormonal changes may make it difficult to
see the cervical canal clearly.
What To Think About
- Colposcopy is not usually used as a screening
test for women at high risk for cervical cancer. A Pap test is done for that
purpose. But a colposcopy gives you and your doctor more information if you have an abnormal result from a Pap test.
- Sometimes only abnormal cervical biopsy results are
reported back to the woman. Tell your doctor if you want to be informed of
normal biopsy results.
- If a colposcopy and cervical biopsy are
normal, it is not likely that you have cell changes that can lead to cervical
- Another biopsy may be needed if a Pap test, colposcopy, and
cervical biopsy show different results. In some cases, a larger biopsy area,
called a cone biopsy, is removed. Special tools, such as laser or a heated
loop, can be used to remove a cone-shaped wedge of normal and abnormal tissue
from the cervix. A cone biopsy may treat the problem because all of the
abnormal tissue is removed. Your doctor will give you more instructions if a
cone biopsy is needed.
- Women with
human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have a higher
chance of developing cervical cancer. A colposcopy is recommended for all women
with HIV and an abnormal Pap test.