Definition of Colposcopy

A diagnostic procedure in which the gynecologist examines a woman’s external genitalia and the interior vagina using a lighted magnifying instrument called a colposcope.

The gynecologist may also visualize the cervix though the colposcope remains outside the vagina. The colposcope allows the gynecologist to more closely examine the surface of the genital tissues when a pelvic examination or a pap test reveals possible abnormalities.

Colposcopy helps the gynecologist determine whether biopsy (removing a small sample of tissue) or another diagnostic procedure is necessary. The gynecologist performs colposcopy as an office procedure that requires no special preparation or anesthetic.

Most women find colposcopy no more uncomfortable than a routine pelvic examination though any associated biopsy may cause minor discomfort and slight bleeding for a day or two after the biopsy.

There are no aftereffects or risks for complication with colposcopy alone.

See also HYSTEROSCOPY.

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