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Colposcopy results

Your colposcopy results tell you what the colposcopist saw during your colposcopy appointment, and your laboratory results if you had tissue removed (biopsy) from your cervix.

We understand that waiting for results can be difficult. You may feel anxious about what they’ll say, so we want you to know we’re here for you. If you would like to talk, you can call our Helpline on 0808 802 8000. You can also join our online Forum.

See our Helpline opening hours >

Read more about our Forum >


When will I get my colposcopy results?

Sometimes, your colposcopist will tell you what they have found straight away during your colposcopy appointment. You might also have a biopsy, which is looked at in a laboratory. This means it may take around 4–8 weeks to get your results. You’ll get them in the post. If you don’t get your results within this time, it’s best to call the hospital or clinic where you had your colposcopy appointment.

Rarely, colposcopy results may show cervical cancer. If this happens, you should be referred to a team of specialists within two weeks.

Read more about cervical cancer >


What do my colposcopy results mean?

Your colposcopy results are different to the ones you got for cervical screening (previously known as a ‘smear test’). This can be confusing. If you have any questions, your colposcopist or GP will be able to explain what your results mean. We also have information here which might be helpful.

Normal result

About 4 in 10 colposcopy results are normal. This means no cell changes (abnormal cells) were found in your cervix.

You can have a normal colposcopy result even if you had an abnormal cervical screening result. This is because cervical screening looks to see if there are cell changes. But it doesn’t tell us everything about those cells. Colposcopy is a more detailed look at your cervix and shows if cell changes need to be monitored or treated. This is why the results can be different.

If you have a normal result, you don’t need treatment and are at low risk of developing cervical cancer. You’ll be advised to continue going to cervical screening when invited. This is in case cell changes appear in the future. How often you’re invited will depend on your age and where you live.

Read more about cervical screening >

Abnormal result

About 6 in 10 colposcopy results are abnormal. This means the tests done during colposcopy or biopsy have found there are cell changes in your cervix. Abnormal results may tell you that you have the following:

  • cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN)
  • cervical glandular intraepithelial neoplasia (CGIN)
  • stratified mucin producing intraepithelial lesion of the cervix (SMILE).

We understand that some words in your results might be confusing or scary. We have more information about them here:

Read more about cervical cell changes >

Rarely, a colposcopy result will show cervical cancer. If this happens, you'll be referred to a team of specialists to discuss treatment.

Read more about cervical cancer >

Getting an abnormal result can be worrying or upsetting. If you have any questions or just want to chat about how you feel, we’re here for you.

Read more about our support services >

Other words you might see in your results

  • ‘Koilocytosis’ or ‘koilocytotic atypia’ — these words describe how cells look when they have HPV present
  • ‘Dyskaryosis’ — this name is given to small changes that can be seen in cells.


Information and support

The experience of going for colposcopy, waiting for results and understanding them can be overwhelming. If you have questions or just need to talk, we are here for you:

  • You can call our Helpline on 0808 802 8000 — our opening hours are here
  • We have a welcoming community in our online Forum, where you can get and give support. There are lots of online conversations about colposcopy and cell changes — you can choose to read existing threads or post your own messages
  • We also answer some common questions about colposcopy on our Colposcopy FAQs page.

We would like to thank all the experts who checked the accuracy of this information, and the volunteers who shared their personal experience to help us develop it.


We write our information based on literature searches and expert review. For more information about the references we used, please contact [email protected]

Read more about how we research and write our information >

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Cell changes >

Read about what cell changes (abnormal cells) are and how they are monitored or treated.

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Date last updated: 
11 Sep 2023
Date due for review: 
11 Sep 2026
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