Definition - What does Colposcopy mean?

A colposcopy is an in-depth examination of the vagina, cervix and vulva using a special tool called a colposcope. A colposcopy is conducted when Pap test results indicate cell changes or other abnormalities in the cervix, vagina or surrounding area. While a coloposopy is unlikely to endanger fertility, the exam may diagnose disorders or disease that could impede a woman's ability to become pregnant.

FertilitySmarts explains Colposcopy

A colposcopy is conducted using a tool called a colposcope, which allows for a magnified view of the vaginal and cervical region. Similar to a pap test, a physician will insert a speculum into the vagina. The speculum holds the vaginal walls in place, allowing the doctor to view the area. The colposcope is a small instrument, equipped with a light and well enhanced magnification ability. The tool is inserted into the vagina, allowing the physician to view the cells of the cervical wall and vaginal cavity.

A colposcopy may be performed to diagnose the following conditions:

  • Cervical cancer or precancerous changes
  • Vaginal cancer or precancerous changes
  • Vulvar cancer or precancerous changes
  • Cervicitis (cervical inflammation)
  • Genital warts
  • Cervical polyps

A colposcopy is typically a safe procedure with minimal risks. In some instances women may experience infection, pelvic pain, or heavy bleeding. If any abnormalities appear during the colposcopy, the physician may remove a small tissue sample for testing. This process of tissue removal is called a biopsy. A routine colposcopy procedure should not threaten a woman’s ability to become pregnant in the future. However, certain types of cervical biopsies may jeopardize fertility potential.

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