A colposcopy is a way to take a look at your cervix, the lower part of the womb at the top of your vagina.
It's often done if cervical screening (also known as your smear test) finds abnormal cells in your cervix.
Sometimes abnormal cells can go away on their own, but there is a risk they could turn into cervical cancer if not treated.
It’s very important to come along for your colposcopy. It helps the doctors to look really closely at the cells. If the doctors think the cells might be a problem they may remove them.
If you are on your period or pregnant please still attend - let a member of the team know if you are pregnant.
We understand that some people may be worried about having a colposcopy. We are here to support you and we’re happy to chat through any concerns you may have.
Got a question about colposcopy? Our team has answered some of the most common questions, check out the video below...
If you would like to talk to one of our team or if you will find it hard to attend your appointment please contact us.
Attending our clinic
Your appointment will be at one of our clinics at North Tyneside, Wansbeck or Hexham hospitals. You can see what our department looks like below...
If you are worried about getting to your appointment or would like to request a certain member of staff, please let us know. We may be able to change your appointment or provide support for you to attend – please contact us to discuss.
What to expect in your appointment
Your colposcopy will last around 20 minutes. If you would prefer a female member of staff to carry out your colposcopy that is no problem, please contact us in advance so we can make arrangements.
Here's Mr Hamoodi to tell you what to expect…
It’s likely that you will have a biopsy taken during your first visit, there are two types of biopsy that can be taken:
A punch biopsy is a tiny sample taken from the surface of your cervix. You may feel a slight nipping sensation but it should not be too painful. This will provide a sample that can be examined under a microscope in the lab so we can talk to you about any treatment needed.
A loop biopsy is a larger sample of tissue taken from the neck of the womb. It is usually performed in the clinic, after an injection to numb the cervix. The larger biopsy will not only provide a sample for diagnosis, but can often remove the abnormal cells completely.
If you have any worries, concerns or would just like to speak to someone about your colposcopy please call or email us, we are happy to chat with you.
Aimee has needed regular colposcopies since her first smear at 25, watch her short video to hear her story.
Claire may be a nurse in our trust but she still experiences the same nerves as any other patient, watch her short story below.
Ann-Marie was battling cancer at the time and talks us through her journey within the department.
If you would prefer to see a female member of staff that is fine, please just let us know. This may not be possible on the day of your appointment and you may need to come back at a later date so please try to contact us in advance so we can arrange this for you.
There will be a trained colposcopist to do your examination, there will also be two trained members of staff to help with equipment.
We are a training hospital so we do have trainees who are sometimes in clinic but we will always ask you beforehand. It is fine if you do not want them to attend.
Yes you can bring someone to your appointment if you wish to do so.
We do normally recommend just one family member or friend to come in with you while we talk to you and carry out your examination.
If you are on your period when your appointment is due to take place, that is fine. Please still come for your appointment.
We know you may feel embarrassed but there is nothing to be embarrassed about, we still recommend you attend your appointment.
When you come for your appointment we recommend you don't wear anything too heavy ie. a thick jumper. If you would feel more comfortable, you can wear a skirt and pop it out of the way for the examination or we can offer you a gown to cover yourself.
You do not need to avoid anything before your appointment, just live your life as normal.
Life continues as normal following your appointment. There are some minor things we advise but we will go through the do's and dont's with you when you attend.
You may want to take the rest of the day off following your appointment. However, this is not essential, you can just see how you feel afterwards.
Everybody is different but some people can describe the procedure as uncomfortable.
Depending on what you have during clinic will depend on whether we need to follow you up. We will go through everything with you when you have your appointment.
If you don't attend for your first appointment, we will send a second appointment.
We would appreciate it if you could let us know if you cannot attend as we can offer your appointment to someone else.
The smear test results are not suggesting you have a cancer of the cervix. However, it is suggesting that there are pre-cancerous changes that could develop into a cervical cancer if left untreated. It is really important that you attend for your appointment.
We normally write to you with your results and this usually happens 3-4 weeks after your appointment.
Usually you would need loop biopsy treatment which is caried out in clinic on the same day. This is normally enough to remove the cancerous cells. However, on the rare occasion some people may need more treatment, if this is the case for you we will support you through that.
Our staff in the department are very supportive. We do have recommendations of forums and chats you can join to talk to people who have been through something similar if you need these.
If you are pregnant and have recently had an abnormal smear, we recommend you still come for your appointment. The colposcopy examination is safe during pregnancy, we wouldn't do any biopsies but we will check your cervix.
We are here to support you and can offer longer appointments if needed. If you have been through something traumatic please do talk to us. You can contact us before your appointment or when you attend.
There are lots of public transport options. There is also car parking on site. If you are struggling to get to your appointment, please contact us beforehand and we can talk you through some options.
Please contact the department before your appointment. Our nursing staff are more than happy to talk you through what to expect.
If you’re a smoker we encourage you to stop. Smoking weakens the immune system and it can take you longer to fight off the virus. If the virus is left untreated it can go on to cause pre-cancerous abnormalities on the cervix.
To find your local stop smoking service please click here.
If you have symptoms such as bleeding between periods or bleeding after sex please seek medical advice.
If you require more resources while you’re waiting for your results, please use the links at the bottom of this webpage.
After a colposcopy examination we wouldn’t expect you to experience bleeding. However if we do a loop biopsy treatment, sometimes you can bleed for up to four weeks afterwards. We do provide sanitary towels in the clinic.
Anyone under the age of 55, we do ask you to do a urine sample when you arrive for your appointment. The reason why we ask for this is because we have to do a routine pregnancy test prior to any colposcopy procedure.
If you have a physical disability, we do have the equipment within the department and the staff here to support you through your appointment. If you have any questions or concerns or just want to talk to someone prior to your appointment, please just give us a call.
We do have a specialised chair in the colposcopy clinic which can recline you to get you into position to make it as comfortable as possible throughout the procedure.