A colposcopy is a simple procedure used to look at the cervix (the neck of the womb).
A colposcopy is often done if a cervical screening test (smear test) finds abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.
These changes often aren't harmful and sometimes go away on their own. But sometimes there's a risk they could turn into cervical cancer if not treated.
A colposcopy can confirm whether abnormal changes in the cells are present. It can also help determine whether you need treatment to remove them.
When a colposcopy may be needed
You may be referred for a colposcopy after getting your screening test results if:
- some of the cells in your screening test sample are abnormal
- the GP or nurse who carried out the screening test thought your cervix didn't look as healthy as it should
- it wasn't possible to give you a normal (negative) result after several screening tests
Try not to worry if you are told you will need to have a colposcopy. It's very unlikely you have cancer. Any abnormal cells won't get worse while you're waiting for your appointment.
Getting a colposcopy appointment
A colposcopy is free of charge. Your GP will refer you directly to the colposcopy clinic.
There are 15 colposcopy clinics in Ireland that we use. All of them are in hospital out-patient departments.
We will recommend one to your GP where you can get an early appointment. Your GP will discuss this with you. You or your GP can choose a different clinic if you want.
The colposcopy clinic will send you details of your appointment. This appointment will be within 2 to 8 weeks of your referral, depending on the outcome of your screening test result.
If you can't attend, please let the colposcopy clinic know.
You can also decide to attend as a private patient but you will have to pay a fee.
If you choose to have a colposcopy as a private patient, we will be unable to access your results and information. We only have access to results and recommendations for tests taken with CervicalCheck.