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Colposcopy (Oxford)

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 after an abnormal cervical screening test (smear test).

An abnormal smear test does not mean that a patient has cancer; it indicates that there have been changes in the cells of the cervix which may develop into cancer if not treated.

During a colposcopy, the colposcope does not touch the patient's body, or go inside it, and the procedure should not cause any pain or discomfort.

If you have an abnormal smear, your GP will send a letter to the clinic, and an appointment letter will then be sent to you within a few working days. If you need to change the appointment to a more convenient time please contact us.

Please remember to let us know if you would like to be seen by a female colposcopist, as there is only one colposcopist at each clinic.

Colposcopy and pregnancy

Colposcopy and cervical smears can be conducted safely during pregnancy, but are planned carefully taking into account your expected date of delivery. Other procedures are usually postponed. If you think you may be pregnant, please contact us for advice.

Routine colposcopy and treatment has not been shown to affect fertility or the ability to give birth.

Your colposcopy appointment

  • You are welcome to bring a relative or friend with you to your appointment if you wish.
  • We will ask you some questions, and explain why you are having a colposcopy appointment. We will also explain in detail what is involved, and answer any queries you may have.
  • The first part of the appointment is very similar to a smear test: please let us know if you have found your smear test uncomfortable in the past.
  • It is not a problem if you have a period when we examine you, unless it is very heavy. If you feel unhappy about being examined while you have a period, please contact us.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing, a skirt or trousers with a long top are ideal.
  • Please bring a sanitary towel with you.
  • There may be a visiting clinician or medical student present, but they would need your permission to stay during your examination.

Find us and contact us

  • Colposcopy
    Diagnostic Suite
    Level 1 Women's Centre
    John Radcliffe Hospital