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What to Expect During and After Your Diagnostic Colposcopy

What to Expect During and After Your Diagnostic Colposcopy

If you've ever received the call that your Pap smear was abnormal, you know the fear and uncertainty that follows. But before you get too scared about cervical cancer, don’t worry. 

At the private practice of board-certified OB/GYN John Paul Roberts, MD, we want to assure you that an abnormal result often doesn’t mean you have cancer. A Pap test is simply a first step. Next, Dr. Roberts may recommend a colposcopy.

A colposcopy is a test we use to closely examine your cervix and vagina to evaluate cells and biopsy tissues to determine if the abnormal Pap smear is due to cervical cancer.

Although it’s another step, Dr. Roberts makes the colposcopy as painless and seamless as possible. He helps you understand the colposcopy process before you commit to the test.

What exactly is a colposcopy?

A colposcopy allows the doctor to get a closer look at your vaginal and cervical tissues using a colposcope.

The colposcope is a specialized instrument that magnifies the tissues to allow him to better see abnormalities. It’s essentially a lighted microscope.

While Dr. Roberts may order a colposcopy if you had an abnormal Pap smear, he may also use the test to look for other issues such as:


A colposcopy is a simple procedure to schedule when you're not on your period. Avoid inserting a tampon or having sex within two days before the procedure.

What to expect during the test

During the colposcopy, you lie on a table with your feet in the stirrups, as you would when you have a Pap test. It shouldn't be any more uncomfortable than a Pap smear.

Dr. Roberts has you relax and inserts a speculum into your vagina, which allows him a better view of your vagina. He then looks through the colposcope, which magnifies his view of your cervix and vaginal tissues.

The colposcope remains outside your vagina, but Dr. Roberts gets a close-up view of the cervical tissues.

You may feel pressure while the speculum is in your vagina, but you shouldn't feel pain. Dr. Roberts may need to take a biopsy if any of the tissues look abnormal.

The biopsy may be slightly more uncomfortable than the colposcopy, but it shouldn't be extremely painful. If necessary, Dr. Roberts can apply a numbing cream to your cervix to decrease discomfort during the biopsy.

Understanding the recovery

After a simple colposcopy, you should be able to return to your normal activities immediately. But even if you don’t have a biopsy, you may have some spotting for a few days after the procedure.

A colposcopy with a biopsy takes a little longer to recover from, although it's still pretty simple. You may have pain for a few days after the procedure, which you can typically manage with over-the-counter pain medications.

Spotting and vaginal bleeding are common after the biopsy. You may need to wear a pad for several days until the bleeding stops. A dark discharge from the vagina is also common.

We suggest you don't put anything into the vagina for a few days as you recover. Avoid using tampons, having sex, or douching until Dr. Roberts clears you.

When will I get the results?

For most people, colposcopy results return within about 10 days post-procedure. We call you with the results and advise you on the next steps.

Signs of a problem

Although colposcopy is a safe and effective procedure, some risks are involved. Call our office right away at any sign of a problem, such as:

A fever, chills, and foul-smelling, discolored discharge may signal an infection. If you have any of these symptoms, contact us so we can treat the problem and prevent complications.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Roberts, call our Plano, Texas, office today at 972-591-8540 or request a consultation via this website.

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