Colposcopy is a way for your doctor to use a special magnifying device to look at your vulva, vagina , and cervix . If the doctor sees a problem, he or she can take a small sample of tissue (biopsy) from the cervix or from inside the opening of the cervix. The sample is looked at under a microscope.
This test is most often done when the result of a Pap test is abnormal. Most abnormal Pap tests are caused by viral infections. Examples are HPV infection and other types of infection, such as those caused by bacteria, fungi (yeast), or protozoa (Trichomonas). Natural cervical cell changes (atrophic vaginitis) linked to menopause can also cause an abnormal Pap test. In some cases, untreated cervical cell changes that cause abnormal Pap tests may become precancerous or cancerous changes.
During the test, your doctor uses a lighted magnifying device that looks like a pair of binoculars. This device is called a colposcope. It allows your doctor to see problems that would be missed by the naked eye. A camera can be attached to the colposcope to take pictures or videos of the vagina and cervix.
Your doctor may put vinegar (acetic acid) and sometimes iodine on the vagina and cervix with a cotton swab or cotton balls. It allows the doctor to see problem areas more clearly.