A colposcopy is a simple gynaecological procedure that allows a doctor to look into the cervix, vulva and vaginal walls. It is generally undertaken if you had an abnormal result from a smear test, which then allows a doctor to carry out further investigations to diagnose any problem you may have. The difference between a smear test and a colposcopy is that a special magnifying instrument is used, called a colposcope.


Why is a Colposcopy Performed?

A colposcopy is recommended if you have any of the following conditions:


  • An abnormal result from a smear test
  • An abnormal growth visible on your cervix, vulva or vagina
  • Unexplained bleeding, especially during and/or after sexual intercourse


Even if a smear test is normal, a colposcopy is sometimes necessary when the cervix appears visibly abnormal to the clinician carrying out the test. The purpose of the colposcopy is to determine what is causing the abnormal looking cervix so that the appropriate treatment is provided. The following conditions can be diagnosed with a colposcopy:


  • Genital warts (HPV)
  • Inflammation of the cervix (cervicitis)
  • Abnormal cervical cells, pre-cancerous or cancer of the cervix, vagina or vulva


How to Prepare for a Colposcopy

Before your procedure, it is important that you do not put anything into your vagina such as gels or creams as this will make it difficult for your doctor to see your cervix. You should also avoid douching, using tampons and having vaginal intercourse 24-48 hours before the procedure.


If you are experiencing heavy bleeding from your period on the day of your appointment, you will need to reschedule, as your doctor will not be able to carry out the procedure, particularly if a biopsy needs to be taken. Light bleeding at the beginning or end of your period is usually fine, but check with your doctor.


You should also inform your doctor if you are pregnant. The colposcopy can still be carried out, but a biopsy will not be taken.


Some doctors recommend a mild over the counter painkiller before undergoing the procedure in case any biopsies are taken.


How is a Colposcopy Performed?

Your doctor will carry out the procedure using a colposcopy to examine the cervix and vaginal walls. The colposcope is a small microscope what resembles a set of binoculars and has a range of magnification lenses. The colour filters allow the doctor to detect tiny abnormal blood vessels on the cervix.


You will be asked to lie on an examination couch with your feet in stirrups, where a speculum is inserted into the vaginal opening. An acetic acid solution will then be used to wipe your cervix and vagina; this may sting a little, but it will help identify any abnormal looking cells. If your doctor spots any abnormal areas, a biopsy (tissue sample) will be taken; this is known as Endocervical Curettage (ECC). This is a critical part of the colposcopy, as treatment will depend on how severe the abnormality is on the biopsy sample. There are 2 different types of biopsies that can be taken during a colposcopy; they are as follows:


Vaginal Biopsy

You will not feel any pain during a vaginal biopsy, as there is very little sensation in most of the area. The lower part of the vagina has more sensation, so your doctor may use a local anaesthetic before proceeding.


Cervical Biopsy

A cervical biopsy can result in discomfort, abdominal cramping and bleeding for some women. Your doctor may recommended taking a painkiller 30 minutes before the procedure, and the cervix may be numbed before the biopsy.


Once the tissue samples have been taken, they will be sent to a laboratory for further testing by a Pathologist.


If your doctor decides to begin treatment at the same time as the colposcopy, a large loop excision of the transformation zone (LLETZ) procedure is usually performed. The LLETZ procedure is a minor surgical operation.


Risks and Complications

A colposcopy is a safe and quick routine procedure with rarely any complications, other than a slight bit of discomfort and vaginal spotting of blood. Your doctor may apply a liquid bandage to your cervix to stop any bleeding which may result in a brown or black vaginal discharge (it can resemble coffee grounds). This is entirely normal and should clear up after a few days.  However, if you experience any of the below symptoms, you should call your doctor immediately:


  • A heavy, yellow vaginal discharge that is foul smelling
  • Vaginal bleeding that lasts for more than 7 days
  • A fever of 100.4 or higher
  • Severe pain in the lower abdomen that is not relieved by over the counter painkillers


Getting your Results

If you do not receive your test results in a timely manner (usually within 2 weeks), ask your doctor when you can expect to receive them. The results will determine whether you need additional tests or treatment. If you had an abnormal smear result, but the results from your colposcopy show no abnormalities, your doctor may recommend additional testing to determine why your smear test was abnormal. They may also recommend a further colposcopy be carried out.


Need Help?

At One Healthcare we can book you in to see a specialist Gynaecologist for an initial consultation, usually within 48 hours.   Colposcopy and LLETZ procedures are available at One Ashford Hospital in Kent and One Hatfield Hospital in Hertfordshire.


You can use your private medical insurance or pay for your Colposcopy treatment. We offer competitive, fixed price packages as well as the ability to spread your cost with the option of 0% finance. If you are using your health insurance, please contact your insurer first for approval and let them know you’d like to be treated at One Ashford Hospital

Why One Ashford Hospital

  • Access to leading Consultants within 48 hours*
  • 0% and low interest finance options**
  • Competitive fixed-price packages
  • Modern purpose-built hospital
  • Private, spacious, ensuite rooms
  • Specialist Physiotherapy and nursing teams
  • Little waiting time for surgery
  • Calm, dignified experience

*Dependent on Consultant availability
**Terms and conditions apply

Contact us and find out more

If you are based in and around Kent, Maidstone, Dover, Canterbury or Folkestone and would like to visit the One Ashford Hospital please click here

Gynaecology Pricing Guide at One Ashford Hospital

This is a list of guide prices for some of common Gynaecology treatments and procedures.

Treatment Guide Price Monthly from
Hysterectomy (Total) £6,000 £134.07
Repair of Prolapsed Vagina £5,400 £113.41
Hysteroscopy £2,350 £53.63
Hysteroscopic Endometrial Ablation £3,220 £72.62
Colposcopy £960 £22.35


If treatment for your condition is not listed above, contact the hospital on 01233 423 303 where a member of our Reservations team can provide you with a quote. 

Contact the Hospital About Colposcopy