A colposcopy is a detailed examination of the cervix (the neck of the womb). A colposcope is like a large magnifying glass. It allows a doctor or specialist nurse to look more closely at the cells that cover the delicate lining of the cervix.
A colposcopy is usually done if you've had an abnormal cervical screening test (also sometimes known as a smear test).
In rare cases, abnormal cervical cells can become cancerous, so a cervical screening test helps to ensure that any cell changes are diagnosed and, if necessary, treated as soon as possible.
During a colposcopy, the colposcope does not touch your body, or go inside it, and the procedure should not cause you any pain or discomfort.
Sometimes, colposcopy clinics have video equipment so that the person carrying out the procedure can view the examination on a screen. If you want to, you will also be able to watch the procedure.
Last updated: 04 October 2011
A colposcopy is a procedure where a doctor uses a special magnifying lens, known as a colposcope to look at the cervix through the opening of the vagina
The cervix is at the lower end of the womb. It connects the womb with the vagina
During a cervical screening test, a sample of cells from a woman's cervix is taken and examined for abnormalities
- Pain is an unpleasant physical or emotional feeling that your body produces as a warning sign that it has been damaged
Continue to next section: Why a colposcopy should be done