Colposcopy is a way for your doctor to use a special
magnifying device to look at your
vagina , and
cervix . If a problem is seen during colposcopy, a
small sample of tissue (biopsy) may be taken from the cervix or
from inside the opening of the cervix (endocervical canal). The sample is
looked at under a microscope.
Colposcopy is usually done to look at the vagina and cervix when the result of a
Pap test is abnormal. Most abnormal Pap tests are
caused by viral infections, such as
human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, or other types
of infection, such as those caused by bacteria, fungi (yeast), or protozoa
(Trichomonas). Natural cervical cell changes (atrophic vaginitis) related to
menopause can also cause an abnormal Pap test. In some
cases, untreated cervical cell changes that cause abnormal Pap tests may
progress to precancerous or cancerous changes.
During colposcopy, your doctor uses a lighted magnifying device
that looks like a pair of binoculars (colposcope). The colposcope allows your
doctor to see problems that would be missed by the naked eye. A camera can be
attached to the colposcope to take pictures or videos of the vagina and
Your doctor may put vinegar (acetic acid) and sometimes iodine
(Lugol's solution) on the vagina and cervix with a cotton swab or cotton balls
to see problem areas more clearly.