Colposcopy is a special examination of the cervix (neck of the womb) using a binocular microscope. Most women who have a colposcopy examination have had an abnormal cervical screening test and are referred to a gynaecologist for colposcopy because of this. The examination takes about 10 minutes to perform and should be no more uncomfortable than having a cervical screening test. A speculum is used to see the cervix. (This is the instrument that your GP or nurse uses when taking your cervical screening test.) The cervix is then washed with different solutions and examined with the microscope. If any abnormalities are detected on the cervix they may need to be checked more thoroughly by a biopsy. This is where a small piece of tissue is taken from the cervix and sent to the pathology laboratory for analysis. If you have a biopsy you should feel no more than a slight pinch.

Dr Etherington is an expert colposcopist. He has been on the Management Committee of the Australian Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology for many years. He participates in the Colposcopy Quality Improvement Programme (CQuIP) of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. He has carried out extensive research in this field of gynaecology and is a regular teacher at colposcopy workshops.