Colposcopy - Results 

Results of a colposcopy 

After a colposcopy, the colposcopist will have an idea straight away whether you have abnormal cells in your cervix.

If they are unsure, a biopsy may need to be carried out.

In some cases, it may be possible for the abnormal cells to be treated during your colposcopy.

Biopsy results

If you have had a biopsy during your colposcopy, the tissue sample will be sent to a laboratory for testing. Testing will help determine the extent of the cell changes in your cervix. You usually have to wait several weeks for your biopsy results. You will then be asked to return to the clinic to discuss them.

The medical term for abnormal cervical cell change is cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia (CIN). CIN is not cancer, however, CIN cells can sometimes develop into cancerous cells.

In some cases, cell abnormalities are detected in the glandular cells found in the inside lining of the cervix. These abnormalities are known as cervical glandular intra-epithelial neoplasia (CGIN). CGIN is less common than CIN.

The detection of CIN or CGIN does not necessarily mean you have or will develop cancer.

Grading CIN and CGIN

CGIN is usually classed as either low grade or high grade. High grade CGIN is the equivalent on CIN 3 (see below).

Doctors use a CIN scale ranging from 1 to 3 to classify how many cervical cells are abnormal. The scale is described below.


CIN 1 cells indicate that up to a third of cells in the affected area of your cervix are abnormal. Your specialist will advise about the best course of treatment. Treatment is not always recommended for CIN 1 because the cells return to normal without treatment in about 60% of cases.


CIN 2 cells indicate that up to two thirds of cells in the affected area of your cervix are abnormal. If you have CIN 2 cells, you will usually need to have these removed.


CIN 3 or CGIN cells indicate that all of the cells in the affected area of your cervix are abnormal. If this is the case, these cells will need to be removed.

In rare cases, a biopsy will show that some of the abnormal cells in your cervix have become cancerous. If this is the case, you will need to have further tests and your specialist will arrange any necessary treatment as soon as possible.

Repeat colposcopy

Depending on your colposcopy or biopsy results, you may need treatment immediately or you may need a repeat colposcopy:

  • If you have CIN 1 cells, you will need a repeat colposcopy every six to 12 months to monitor the cells and see whether further treatment is required.
  • If you have CIN 2 or 3 cells, immediate treatment is usually recommended.

CIN and CGIN are treated in exactly the same way.

Read more about colposcopy treatment.  

Page last reviewed: 17/10/2012

Next review due: 17/10/2014


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The 4 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

WendyMarston said on 05 January 2014

I am 36 yes old with 2 kids, sterilised for 9 yrs and also Endoetrial ablation 2 yrs ago.

On 9th Dec 2013 I had my smear and I then got a letter to say I high high risk etc and I had to go for a Loop Biopsy on the 23Dec 2013.

Under local anaesthetic I had the Loop procedure, however the Doctor never check to see if I was numb and I was in agony my husband could hear me from outside the room. I am not soft but I can tell you it was very painful ??

They put the vinegar on which hurt and gave me 2 injections but like I say I don't think I was numb.

Afterwards I was in pain stomach cramps felt horrible.

Two days later no bleeding ?? and only a clear discharge but still stomach cramps and swollen belly.

31 Dec New Years Eve still in discomfort but feel ok in myself, off out to celebrate at a house party. Some dancing and drinking felt ok.

1 Jan 2014 great start to the new year absolute agony and bleeding heavy, feel horrible belly swollen.

Today 5 Jan still in loads of pain and not sleeping on a night as the pain wakes me. When any bowel movements and bladder I am in agony brings tears to my eyes..... Unsure if this is normal but I am guessing I must be very inflamed.

Waiting for biopsy results.......

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kmkjpk said on 09 January 2013

I completely agree, I have been for a colposcopy and have cgin and am going back for a loop biopsy in a week and would find it very helpful if this nhs website had some information on it for me to read. Nobody has yet explained it to me.

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dawnyb1985 said on 27 July 2012

I am abit confused. I am 26 years old and have quite a few health issues at present and have done in the past. These issues range from gynea, gastro and urological health issues.
I was advised before I was 25 that as I was a young mother and with all my history I should have had a smear previous to turning 25. Many nurses and drs including my gynea consultant were rather shocked that I hadn't had one yet not one of them sent me for one.
When I reached 25 within about a week I had an invite to go for a smear test at my gp surgery. I attended this and about 2 months later received the results which showed mild changes. I then had to go for a repeat smear 6 mths after the original. This showed moderate changes. I was then sent for a colposcopy.
I went for the colposcopy and it took over 2 months for the results to come through. Although it states above you will get your results in 1-2 weeks and then be invited back to discuss it. All I received was a letter to state I had CIN 1. This left me rather confused as the previous smear said different and I was left not knowing as nobody discussed anything with me. I even requested the dr at the hospital to call to explain to keep my mind at ease but still nothing. The joys of NHS I suppose.
I was invited to go bk 12 months later. My appointment for a repeat colposcopy was a month a go (over 14 months since my last one). Yet again nothing was explained at that appointment and even during the procedure the dr didn't say a word to me. Just that he was taking biopsies so I knew there were still abnormalities.
I received the results this week which state I still have CIN1 and I have to attend a smear test in 12 months time.
I am quite baffled as everything that is mentioned on this website contradicts the way I have been treated. Nothing has happened even though every smear/colposcopy I have had is abnormal. Plus I don't seem to be getting the check ups as I should. Should I be worried or am
I just being over cautious?

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gwendolene said on 13 April 2012

Why is there no mention of CGIN (Cervical Glandular Intra-epithelial Neoplasia - anormal cells in the glandular tissue) on this page? This type of abnormality may be rare but that does not mean it doesn't warrent mentioning.

It was difficult for me to find out what difference this would make, if any, and it would be helpful if NHS information was included on it as there are slightly diffrerent implications for women who have this abnormality.

I have just had a colposcopy to treat CGIN alongwith CIN3 and was disappointed to see that CGIN is not mentioned in the leaflet given to me by my hospital either.
I would recommend Jo's trust over this web page to anyone requiring the basic facts.

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