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What is a colposcopy?

Colposcopy is a way to get a close-up look at your cervix. It’s a quick and easy way to find cell changes in your cervix that may turn into cancer. Colposcopy is done for abnormal Pap tests or HPV infection.

What happens during a colposcopy and biopsy?

You’ll lie down on an exam table like you would for a pelvic exam. A speculum is inserted into your vagina and open it. This separates the walls of your vagina so he can get a really good look at your cervix.

Your cervix is washed with a vinegar-like solution. This makes it easier to see abnormal cells. Next, we will look at your cervix through a colposcope — an instrument that looks like binoculars on a stand with a bright light. The colposcope doesn’t touch you or go inside you.

If something doesn’t look normal, you may need it to be biopsied. This means taking a tiny sample of tissue and sending it to a lab at Mount Sinai in Manhattan. 

A colposcopy takes about 5-10 minutes.

Does it hurt?

A colposcopy is nearly pain-free. You might feel pressure when the speculum goes in. It might also sting or burn a little when they wash your cervix with the vinegar-like solution.

If you have a biopsy, you might have some discomfort. Most people describe it as feeling like a sharp pinch or a period cramp. You might have a little spotting, bleeding, or dark discharge from your vagina for a few days after a biopsy.

What should you know before your appointment?

You don't have to do much to prepare for a colposcopy. Here are 2 things you can do to make things easier:

  1. Schedule your colposcopy for when you won’t have your period. That makes it easier to see the cervix.

  2. Don’t douche, use tampons, put medicine in your vagina, or have vaginal sex for at least 24 hours before your appointment.

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