Health Tests

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Harvard Medical School


What Happens During the Test?

The test begins with a pelvic exam and another Pap smear, as well as testing for the HPV virus if this has not yet been done. The doctor then uses a cotton swab to dab a solution containing acetic acid (similar to white vinegar) onto your cervix. This makes any abnormal areas temporarily turn white. The solution might burn slightly. The magnifying lens in the colposcope makes the white areas easier for the doctor to see.

If there are abnormal areas on your cervix, your doctor might do a cervical biopsy using small clippers. You will feel some pinching or cramping during the biopsy, and there might be some bleeding. If there is bleeding, the bleeding can usually be stopped with a chemical solution that is dabbed on with a cotton swab, but you might also need a stitch.

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