What Should I Do after a Colposcopy?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2019
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A colposcopy is a medical procedure that is typically performed on women in order to look for potential health issues after an abnormal pap smear. It is important for the woman to know what to expect after a colposcopy so that any complications can be reported to the doctor. In most cases, there is little to no pain after the procedure, although some bleeding or vaginal discharge is normal. Depending on other procedures that may be performed at the same time, the use of tampons may be discouraged for a while, and there may be restrictions concerning when sexual intercourse can be resumed. Any questions or concerns about proper self-care after a colposcopy should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

If the colposcopy procedure is performed without any additional procedures, there is usually little to no discomfort for the patient. If a biopsy or other procedure is performed at the same time, there may be mild to moderate pain afterward. If over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen do not provide sufficient pain relief, the doctor may prescribe stronger pain medications.


Vaginal bleeding or a dark-colored discharge is to be expected after a colposcopy. The patient should wear a sanitary pad or panty liner instead of a tampon, especially for the first few days following the procedure. Each case is different, so the doctor will provide individualized instructions on how long the patient should wait before using a tampon or engaging in sexual intercourse. Both showers and tub baths are usually allowed immediately following surgery.

Complications after a colposcopy are rare, and recovery is almost immediate in most cases. If complications do arise, a doctor should be notified immediately. Symptoms to look for include severe abdominal pain, fever, or heavy bleeding. If the bleeding is heavy, foul-smelling, or yellow, a doctor should be consulted for further evaluation.

All medications, including birth control pills, should continue to be taken as prescribed after the procedure unless the doctor instructs otherwise. Depending on the results of the colposcopy, additional tests or medical procedures may be indicated, so it is important to keep all follow-up appointments. The colposcopy itself does not interfere with the fertility of the patient, although the doctor should be notified if the patient has plans to become pregnant after the procedure. Any additional tests or procedures may need to be approached with caution if the patient intends to become pregnant.


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