What Are the Different Colposcopy Side Effects?

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  • Written By: Valerie Goldberg
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 01 September 2019
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A colposcopy is a test performed by a gynecologist to examine the cervix and vagina of a woman who has had a Pap smear with abnormal results. Whenever a medical procedure is performed, there is a chance of some side effects. Common colposcopy side effects include discharge and light vaginal bleeding. Rare but potentially dangerous colposcopy side effects include fever and infection. Both cervical cancer and genital warts can be diagnosed using the results of a colposcopy.

One of the most normal colposcopy side effects is minor vaginal bleeding. This bleeding should be lighter than a typical menstrual period. If a biopsy is performed during the colposcopy, this bleeding will come from the site of the biopsy. Women should wear a panty liner for a few days to avoid staining, and the bleeding should stop on its own within a few days.

Another standard colposcopy side effect is vaginal discharge. Normal vaginal discharge is usually white or clear, but vaginal discharge may be brown after a colposcopy. The brown color does not indicate an infection but is, rather, a result of a woman's normal vaginal discharge and blood mixing with a paste that is sometimes used during the procedure. As long as the discharge has no abnormal odor and clears up within a week, it should be no cause for concern.


A woman who has a fever in the days after her colposcopy may be suffering from an infection. Extremely painful pelvic and abdominal cramps also can be a sign of an infection. A patient experiencing these symptoms should contact her doctor immediately. Foul-smelling discharge also may be an indicator that an infection is present.

The chance of colposcopy side effects and post-procedure infections can be lessened by a woman's behavior after the test. Tampons should not be worn for at least a week. If a woman gets her period during this time, it is best to wear a sanitary pad instead. Women also should not have sex for at least a week after the procedure. It also is recommended that exercise be avoided for a day or two while the cervix heals.

Women also should practice caution before a colposcopy. Using a tampon or having sex the day before the test can cause inconclusive test results. Women should abstain from these activities to avoid needing to have the colposcopy performed a second time. Over-the-counter pain medications can be taken before the procedure to help reduce the chances of pain or inflammation afterward.


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Post 2

@HelenRd: I just had one done today, and it's really not that bad at all. I also had one about six years ago and mine was mild. But the last time they did have to do a procedure to remove precancerous cells. I was scared to death, but it also wasn't that bad.

I don't know this time what the biopsy will say, and I'm hoping I don't have to have another procedure. But please go. If yours is high grade, you really need to go.

Post 1

I am still debating whether or not to undergo the colposcopy due to high grade abnormal cells. It scares me half to death knowing I won't be one of those women who just gets the minor smear.

What I will never understand about medicine is why, if woman has cancer, she has to undergo so much. Why can't they save the tissue from the first procedure for a biopsy if needed later so that she doesn't have to undergo a whole lot of terrifying and painful hell a second time before she even undergoes an operation?

I'm especially fearful because I believe I have Lyme disease (Elisa test picked the Borrelia things up but Western blot didn't), and I fear

that tearing my skin apart may cause the parasite or whatever it's called, to head directly there and make things worse, especially since I read that one of the most common co-infections of Lyme disease was Ehrlichiosis, which seems to be directly affiliated with many cancers.

So sorry if I sound so negative but I'm terrified and stressed out and am thinking of cancelling this after already postponing it twice.

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