A doctor places a metal speculum to hold open the vagina during a colposcopy, then he places a lighting device and a colposcope that allow him to better view the vagina and cervix, notes Mayo Clinic. The doctor also swabs away any mucus that may be blocking his sight.
Doctors complete colposcopies in their offices, and the procedures usually take between 10 and 20 minutes, states Mayo Clinic. The patient lies on her back with her feet in supports to give the doctor access to her vagina. After the doctor has positioned a speculum to hold open the walls of the vagina, he places a magnifying colposcope close to the vulva. He then uses a light to illuminate the area and looks through the colposcope. The doctor also clears away any mucus from the vagina and cervix, which allows him to better see any troublesome areas. The solution used to clear the mucus may cause a burning or tingling sensation.
If the doctor finds suspicious areas or cells during a colposcopy, he may also complete a biopsy, notes Mayo Clinic. If he completes a cervical biopsy, the patient may feel mild discomfort along with pressure and cramping. If he completes a vaginal biopsy, the patient normally does not feel pain unless the biopsy is taken from the lower part of the vagina or vulva. He may use a local anesthetic to numb the area during a lower vaginal biopsy.