Q. Is colposcopy used to diagnose HPV?

Answered by
Dr. Sravanthi Nuthalapati
and medically reviewed by Dr. Sneha Kannan
This is a premium question & answer published on Jun 13, 2020 and last reviewed on: Jun 03, 2021

Hi doctor,

A month back, I did a Pap smear and it came back abnormal. I was told that I have HPV. My doctor did colposcopy two weeks back. It showed normal results. What does this mean? Do I have HPV? Can I have a low risk? I do not have any warts.



Welcome to

There are some differences between the tests that you have done. I will try to explain it. A Pap smear is a test used to screen whether a woman has a cancerous or precancerous cell over the mouth of the uterus. It is basically a screening test for cervical cancer. As it is just a screening test, it cannot diagnose if you have any foci of cancer over the cervix. It just shows the characteristics of cells shown in smears.

HPV testing is a test done to detect the causative agent of cervical cancer that is human papillomavirus. It spreads through sexual contact. Based on genomic sequence, they are categorized into various types. Warts are caused due to low-risk type that is 6 and 11 whereas there are 12 high-risk types that can cause cervical cancer. These can be detected in HPV (human papillomavirus) testing. The high-risk ones are caused by types 16 and 18. When a woman starts her sexual activity, approximately 70 to 80% of women get HPV infection. But it gets cleared within one to two years and so we do not this test for women below 30 years.

As you have a positive result, it indicates a high risk of having precancerous changes or a risk of having cervical cancer in the future. Colposcopy is a test done to visualize cervix under huge magnification. It helps to see for any deviation from normal and to look for any changes in the cervix whether there is presence of abnormal or precancerous cells. After that, biopsies are taken from that particular abnormal site and it is subjected to histopathological examination.

As your colposcopy findings are normal, then you can repeat your test after six to twelve months. Repeat cytology and HPV testing. If your repeat screening test results are negative, then you can follow screening protocols like other women. Kindly share your reports of HPV and Pap smear to guide you further.

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