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What happens

A colposcopy is usually carried out in a hospital clinic. It takes around 15-20 minutes and you can go home soon afterwards.

Preparing for a colposcopy

Contact the clinic before your appointment if:

You can bring a friend, partner or family member with you to the hospital if you think it will help you feel more at ease.

The colposcopy procedure

A colposcopy is carried out by a specialist called a colposcopist. This may be a doctor or a specially trained nurse.

During the procedure:

If it's obvious that you have abnormal cells in your cervix, you may be offered treatment to remove the cells immediately. Otherwise, you'll need to wait until you get your biopsy result.

After a colposcopy

After having a colposcopy:

Your nurse or doctor may be able to tell you what they've found straight away.

If you have had a biopsy, it will be checked in a laboratory and you'll need to wait a few weeks to receive your result by post.

Read more about results of a colposcopy.

Risks and side effects of a colposcopy

A colposcopy is a very safe procedure that doesn't cause any serious problems.

But some women experience:

Contact your GP if you have persistent bleeding, bleeding that's heavier than your usual period, smelly vaginal discharge or tummy pain.

There are some additional risks and side effects if you also have treatment to remove any abnormal cells.