A colposcopy is a way your doctor can examine your genitals, vagina and cervix more closely. A colposcope is an instrument that shines a light on the cervix and magnifies the view for your doctor. At the beginning of the exam, you lie back and place your feet in the stirrups as you would for a pap smear. Your doctor inserts a speculum into your vagina and opens it slightly so your cervix can be seen. Then your doctor applies a vinegar solution to the cervix and vagina with a cotton ball or swab. The vinegar makes abnormal tissue turn white so your doctor can identify areas that may need further evaluation.
If your doctor sees areas of abnormal tissue during the colposcopy, he or she may also perform a biopsy. This involves removing small samples of tissue from any abnormal areas in or around the cervix. A specialist doctor called a pathologist will examine these samples.
It usually only takes 20 to 30 minutes for your doctor to complete a colposcopy and biopsy.