Colposcopy is the examination of the cervix under magnification.  A colposcope is similar to a pair of binoculars with a light attached.


In order to do colposcopy, cervix is first cleaned and the colposcope, which does not enter the vagina, is used to look at the cervix under magnification. When the cervix is viewed through the colposcope, areas of cervical dysplasia, which look white and often have a dotted appearance, are looked for.

It is important to see the entire transformation zone because this is the area in which dysplasia develops. Tiny samples of tissue (cervical biopsies) are taken from any abnormal areas for a pathologist to examine under the microscope. A colposcopy examination usually takes about ten to twenty minutes to complete, although a gynecologist who is very experienced at colposcopy usually only takes several minutes to do colposcopy.  In addition to looking at the cervix, it is important to also examine the vagina and vulva through the colposcope.