Please note: information provided on this page is meant for patients of CSU Health Network.


Why do I need a colposcopy?

A colposcopy is done for an abnormal pap smear result. Abnormal pap smears are common and most usually related to HPV (human papilloma virus) exposure. There are many strains of HPV and even if you have been vaccinated (which is awesome) you could have exposure to another strain. Abnormal pap smears do not mean you have cancer currently or will develop cancer in the future.

What is a colposcopy?

A colposcopy is an in office procedure where a special microscope is used to examine the cervix and if needed the vagina and vulva.

How is a colposcopy performed?

During the procedure, 5% acetic acid (vinegar) is applied to the cervix to help differentiate abnormal cells. If needed, a cervical biopsy may be done. It feels like a sharp pinch and may also have associated cramping. Sometimes a biopsy of the cervical canal is also done to check for potential abnormal cells. This area cannot be seen using the colposcope.

What should I expect after a colposcopy?

You may experience bleeding for 3-5 days after the procedure if biopsies were done. Sometimes the discharge can be brown, to grey in color. It can also be thick with a “coffee ground” appearance. You may also experience some cramping. You can use ibuprofen if needed.

Avoid intercourse for 3-5 days as there is a slight risk for infection and may cause bleeding as the biopsy sites are healing.

When will I get the biopsy result?

It takes up to 2 weeks to get the biopsy results. You will be notified of the results via secure message.

Things to help abnormal pap smears:
  • Do your follow up pap smears as scheduled
  • Be vaccinated with Gardasil (HPV vaccine), immunization clinic has the vaccine
  • No smoking
  • Use a barrier method with sexual activity (external or internal condoms)
  • Folic acid 800 micrograms daily (available alone or in women’s health or prenatal vitamins)