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A colposcopy is a procedure that examines and, if necessary, takes a biopsy of the cervix. It is usually performed after you receive an abnormal Pap smear, and is used to identify cervical cancer or pre-cancerous conditions.

The procedure

You will lie on an examination table with your feet in the stirrups, and your doctor or nurse will use a speculum to make the cervix more visible. He or she will then swab the cervix with acetic acid to highlight any abnormal cells. A colposcope (a microscope) will aid in examining the cervix. If your provider finds abnormal cells, he or she will use a very small instrument to remove some cells for examination.

Some women feel discomfort during a colposcopy, but your provider will use anesthetic spray to minimize any feeling. You may have cramping or slight bleeding after the procedure.

Abnormal results

If your colposcopy indicates that you have abnormal cells, it may mean that you have:

Your provider will follow your biopsy with more testing as necessary to track the changes in your cervix.

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