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What is colposcopy?

Colposcopy is an examination of the cervix (neck of the womb) using magnifying binoculars called a colposcope.

It requires insertion of a speculum which allows the specialist (colposcopist) to have a detailed look at your cervix to assess if there are any abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. For most women the examination is painless, taking approximately five to ten minutes.

Why do I need a colposcopy?

The most common reason for having a colposcopy is because a cervical sample test has shown the presence of high risk HPV (human papilloma virus) and / or abnormal cells. However, women may also be referred for a colposcopy if they have:

  • Post-coital bleeding (bleeding after sexual intercourse)
  • Inter-menstrual bleeding (bleeding in between menstrual periods)
  • An unusual appearance of the cervix.
  • Persistent inadequate smears (three or more)
  • Symptoms or pre-cancerous changes relating to the vulva/vagina

Additional information

Colposcopy can still be carried out if you are menstruating. If you are bleeding, however there is a possibility that the cervical sample results could return as inadequate and, therefore, may need to be repeated. If you would rather not have a colposcopy appointment during your menstrual period, please contact the appointments line on 0208 725 4653/1615.

  • There is no specific preparation required for colposcopy
  • It is perfectly safe to have intercourse prior to the appointment
  • It is important to eat something prior to your appointment. Not eating may make you feel faint during or after the examination.
  • It is safe to perform colposcopy during early pregnancy
  • During the procedure a photographic record of the appearance of the cervix may be taken in order to offer the best advice and guidance
  • Due to the nature of the examination, it is preferred that male partners are not present during the examination

Keep to your appointment time

If you cannot attend your appointment for any reason, please let us know as soon as possible. This will allow us to offer it to another patient and reschedule your visit. Please attend your appointment on time. If you arrive more than 10 minutes late, it is likely to result in you not being seen that day and having to re book for another day.

Contact details for Colposcopy

  • Co-ordinator – 0208 725 4653
  • Results Secretary – 0208 725 1615
  • Nurse Specialists – 0208 725 0221
  • Colposcopy unit – 0208 725 0900
  • Email – stgh-tr.colposcopyteam@nhs.net

The colposcopy clinic is held at St Georges Hospital, Ground Floor, Lanesborough Wing, Colposcopy Unit.

Patient information Leaflets (to be added) 

Any Questions?

If you have any questions, please contact your GP or the colposcopy nurse specialist at St Georges Hospital on 0208 725 0221.

Please also call (or ask someone who speaks English to call) if you have difficulty understanding or reading this information.

Further information (external sites) 

British Society for Colpsocopy

NHS Screening Programmes 

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust