Colposcopy is a diagnostic procedure used to examine, under magnification, certain areas of the body and determine abnormalities. A vulvar colposcopy typically examines lesions on the vulva and is used to identify cancer or genital human papillomavirus, also called HPV.
The procedure is done with a colposcope, a microscope that can help identify malignant lesions on the vulva. It is usually performed as a follow-up to an abnormal pap smear. The exam itself is similar to a pap smear in that a speculum is inserted into the vagina so that the cervix is visible. The colposcope is situated so that the physician may view the area in question with a magnification of 10 to 40 times its normal size. If any abnormal cells are noticed, a biopsy of the tissue may be done.
A colposcopy is a safe procedure with few complications. Light bleeding or discharge for up to a week after the procedure is normal.