A cervical biopsy taken during a colposcopy exam causes mild discomfort, but it is typically not painful, notes Mayo Clinic. Most people feel some cramping and pressure during the biopsy.
During a colposcopy, the patient lies on her back on the exam table with her feet in supports as if she were having a Pap test or pelvic exam, reports Mayo Clinic. The doctor inserts a speculum into the vagina to hold the walls of the vagina open, giving him a better view of the cervix. He then positions a colposcope a few inches from the vulva. This special magnifying instrument shines a bright light into the vagina and has a lens for the doctor to look through.
The doctor uses a swab to clear away mucus on the cervix and in the vagina and uses a vinegar solution to highlight any suspicious-looking cells on the cervix, notes Mayo Clinic. If the doctor observes suspicious cells, he may perform a cervical biopsy by inserting a biopsy instrument into the vagina to collect a cell or tissue sample. A chemical solution applied to the biopsy area minimizes any bleeding caused by the biopsy.
The exam takes 10 to 20 minutes, notes Mayo Clinic. Spotting, light bleeding or dark discharge may occur for a few days after the biopsy collection.