"A colposcopy is a minor procedure that lets your doctor examine the health of your cervix, vagina and vulva using a special instrument known as a colposcope. ."

Colposcopies are usually performed in Full Circle’s consulting rooms rather than in a hospital. That means you’re in a comfortable environment where we do our best to make you feel at ease.


What is the cervix?

Your cervix is a donut-shaped ring that guards the entrance to your womb. The cervix plays an important role in your reproductive health, keeping bacteria out of your uterus, producing discharge that cleans your vagina and changing its position to safeguard a pregnancy.

How to prepare for a colposcopy

We’ll tell you how to prepare when you book your colposcopy. Your gynaecologist will discuss the benefits and risks and answer any questions you may have. 

Please book your colposcopy for a time when you are not having your period. And please tell us before the procedure if you think you may be pregnant.

What happens in a cervical colposcopy?

A colposcopy feels similar to having a cervical screening test.


We’ll ask you to take off your clothes below the waist and lie on an examination bed, covering your legs with a towel to give you a sense of privacy.


Then your doctor will insert a speculum into your vagina and gently open it to hold back the vaginal walls to give a better view of your cervix. This can feel a little uncomfortable but is not usually painful.

Then we paint your cervix with iodine because this highlights any abnormalities. Please let us know before your colposcopy if you are allergic to iodine.


Now that everything’s ready, your gynaecologist uses the colposcope, which looks a bit like a pair of binoculars attached to a stand. Your gynaecologist positions this in front of your vagina and looks through it to get a magnified view of your cervix (the colposcope does not ever enter your body).

At Full Circle,

We use a digital colposcope which records images of your cervix, which we can show you when explaining the results of your colposcopy. These images form part of your patient record.

If any unusual or suspicious cells are found, we note their location and pattern and take a tissue sample which is sent away for testing. You may feel a small pinch or pressure when we take the sample. If it’s in a sensitive area, we may apply a local anaesthetic first.

digital colposcope
Not long. The actual procedure takes about 10-20 minutes though your appointment will be for longer than that to give us time to discuss your health and make you comfortable.

You may be referred for a colposcopy if your cervical screening test showed that you:

  • Have a type of human papillomavirus (HPV) that needs further investigation
  • Have abnormal cervical cells that need treatment.

You may also need a colposcopy if a pelvic exam has shown abnormalities.

  • Colposcopy can diagnose:
    Cervicitis (an inflammation of the cervix)
  • Precancerous changes to your cervix, vagina or vulva
  • Benign growths such as polyps
    Genital warts.

A colposcopy is a minor procedure and you can usually go back to your normal daily routine immediately. You might have a little spotting for a few days after a colposcopy, especially if we took a tissue sample. Paracetamol can help if you experience any discomfort.

Colposcopy recovery time is usually less than a week. During this time, the aim is to reduce the risk of infection or increased bleeding so we ask that you avoid putting anything into your vagina during this time. That means no penetrative sex, no tampons, no menstrual cups, creams or lubricants. You can shower but please don’t swim, bathe or use a spa. It’s also best to avoid heavy exercise for a few days.

Please call us immediately or see your GP if you:

  • are bleeding heavily or still bleeding a week later
  • have a fever
  • have a smelly vaginal discharge
  • are in severe abdominal pain.

What to do if you’re feeling
anxious about a colposcopy

Many women feel anxious about having a colposcopy. That’s partly about the procedure itself and partly fear of what it might show.

Please tell us if you’re feeling worried. At Full Circle, we’re here to support and reassure you, answering any questions and talking you through each step of the procedure. You can reduce your anxiety about a colposcopy by:

What about the results?

It may take 2 weeks for your results to come back from the lab. We’ll book an appointment with you to talk through any findings and next steps.

Request An Appointment