ColposcopyDiseases such as cervical cancer are scary enough without worrying about the methods used to detect them. Unfortunately, the technical names of such methods may be very intimidating. Learning about procedures such as a colposcopy can reduce your anxiety.
Colposcopy involves the use of a special binocular microscope called a colposcope to obtain a magnified view of your cervix, vagina or vulva. The procedure enables doctors to identify any abnormalities and detect very early stages of cervical cancer. They may perform this test after receiving abnormal results from one of your Pap smears.
During the procedure, women will lie on their back, sometimes with their legs in stirrups. A doctor will insert an instrument called a speculum into the vagina just like a Pap smear. A local anesthetic is applied to the cervix as well as a solution of acetic acid which has a vinegar-like odor. This solution will stain any abnormal cells white. A doctor may also cover your cervix with an iodine solution which will make any abnormalities more easily visible. The microscope or colposcope is never inserted into the patient.
Some patients will experience minor bleeding or a dark vaginal discharge for a few days following the procedure. This occurs because of the yellow paste often applied to the cervix to stop bleeding. When the paste mixes with blood, the resulting discharge becomes dark brown or black. In very rare cases, patients may experience infections in the cervical area after a colposcopy.
This page was last updated:
April 2, 2007It is not the intention of Cervicalcancer.org to provide specific medical advice, but rather to provide users with information to better understand their health and their diagnosed disorders. Specific medical advice will not be provided, and Cervicalcancer.org urges you to consult with a qualified physician for diagnosis and for answers to your personal questions.