Colposcopy & Vulvoscopy

These are two common methods of inspecting the vulva and cervix using a specially designed medical microscope called a colposcope. These procedures are usually carried out in-clinic.


Colposcopy is an examination of the cervix (neck of the womb) using a colposcope allowing your consultant to look at possible cell changes on the cervix.

When is Colposcopy required?

Colposcopy is usually carried out when abnormal cells have been found during a smear test. This usually means that minor changes exist in the cells on the cervix and in many cases these minor changes return to normal on their own. Sometimes the changes become worse and could possibly lead to cancer in the future.

Colposcopy may be recommended if you have:

  • An identified abnormality on the cervix
  • Bleeding after intercourse
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Persistent vaginal discharge
  • If you are a transplant patient or have HPV (Human Papillomavirus)

How is Colposcopy performed?

Similar to having a smear test, a speculum is inserted into the vagina so that the opening of the cervix can be seen, and is then viewed using a colposcope, (this is not inserted into the body).

If any abnormal cells are detected a small tissue sample will be taken from the cervix (biopsy), and then examined under a microscope. If the abnormal cells go further into the cervix a cone biopsy may be required (this is where a larger cone shaped tissue sample is taken).

A colposcopy will show whether or not treatment is needed. If treatment is required this is usually carried out under local anaesthetic in the clinic with diagnostic biopsies taken at the same time.

(It is recommended that colposcopy isn’t carried out when you have your period, as this can make the cervix difficult to see.)

Where is Colposcopy performed?

Colposcopy can be performed in our purpose built treatment room at The Surrey Park Clinic, under local anaesthetic. Although a general anaesthetic is not generally necessary for this simple procedure, you could opt for this, in which case the procedure would be performed at a local private hospital.



Vulvoscopy is an examination of the vulva skin surface of the perineum and labia and vaginal opening using a colposcope allowing your consultant to observe possible cell changes on the vulva. A vulvoscopy may be recommended if you have:

  • Vulva pain or soreness
  • Any visible abnormalities such as lesions or skin whitening
  • Vulval pain during sexual intercourse
  • Bleeding
  • Itching / Burning

How is a Vulvoscopy Performed?

A Colposcope is used to magnify the area, (this is not inserted into the body), so any abnormal changes may be clearly seen. If during the examination abnormal cells are detected, a small biopsy (tissue sample) will be taken under local anaesthetic to be examined for abnormal cells.

A Vulvoscopy will show whether or not treatment is needed.  If treatment is required this is usually carried out under local anesthetic in the clinic once the biopsy results are available. If the area is widespread or treatment such as laser is required this is done under general anaesthetic as an in-patient in hospital.

Related topics Abnormal Smears

We can take care of Colposcopy and Vulvoscopy in-Clinic

At the Surrey Park Clinic we have specialist doctors and the facilities to undertake colposcope examinations in our comfortable, friendly clinic.
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