What is the stuff that comes out after a colposcopy?

A colposcopy is a diagnostic procedure that allows a physician to examine the cervix, vagina, and vulva in detail for signs of disease. During a colposcopy, the doctor applies a dilute acetic acid solution to the tissue, which causes abnormal areas to turn white. This allows the physician to identify any precancerous or cancerous lesions.

Discharge After a Colposcopy

It is common to have some discharge after a colposcopy. This discharge is from the acetic acid solution used during the procedure and may be tinged with blood from any biopsies that were taken. Here are some things you may notice:

  • Watery discharge – This is from the acetic acid rinsing away cervical/vaginal mucus.
  • Bloody discharge – A small amount of bleeding can occur from biopsy sites and should stop within 24 hours.
  • Brownish discharge – Old blood from biopsies may mix with mucus causing brownish discharge.
  • Cramping – Mild cramping from the biopsies may occur and can be treated with OTC pain medication.

These types of discharge are normal following a colposcopy. Contact your doctor if you have heavy bleeding that soaks a pad in an hour or foul-smelling discharge which could indicate infection.

What is in the Discharge?

The components of post-colposcopy discharge depend on whether biopsies were taken but can include:

  • Mucus – Cervical mucus is always present and may mix with discharge.
  • Blood – A small amount of blood from biopsy sites is common.
  • Iodine – The brownish iodine solution used to cleanse the cervix.
  • Acetic acid – The vinegar-like solution turns abnormal cells white.
  • Antiseptic – Used to cleanse the cervix before the procedure.
  • Lubricant – Used on instruments during colposcopy.

In addition, any abnormal cervical cells that were removed during biopsies may be present in the discharge. These cells are sent to the lab for analysis after the procedure.

When Does the Discharge Occur?

Discharge is most common immediately after the colposcopy and during the 24 hours following the procedure. Here is a timeline:

  • Immediately after – Watery and bloody discharge from biopsies.
  • That evening – Heavier bloody discharge mixing with mucus.
  • Next morning – Old blood and iodine causing brownish discharge.
  • During the week – Light bloody spotting tapering off.

Bloody discharge following a colposcopy typically lasts no more than 3-5 days. See your physician if you have heavy bleeding or foul-smelling discharge that lasts longer.

Is the Discharge Normal?

Mild discharge following a colposcopy is normal. Here are signs the discharge is normal:

  • Thin, watery, or mucus-like consistency
  • Light pink, red, or brown color
  • Minimal amount, not enough to soak a pad
  • Lasts fewer than 5 days
  • No odor

Indications that the discharge may not be normal include:

  • Thick or clumpy consistency
  • Bright red and heavy, soaking a pad
  • Foul fishy or unpleasant odor
  • Lasting longer than one week
  • New onset itching, burning, or pain

Contact your doctor if your discharge seems abnormal. Heavy bleeding, foul odor, and pelvic pain can indicate an infection or complication.

Will it Stain my Clothes?

It is possible for post-colposcopy discharge to stain clothing, especially if it contains blood from biopsy sites. To prevent staining:

  • Wear a panty liner for the first 1-2 days
  • Use dark-colored underwear during discharge window
  • Change pads and underwear frequently
  • Rinse out stains while fresh
  • Soak in cold water prior to washing
  • Pre-treat with stain remover

The discharge should not be heavy enough to soak through your clothes. Wearing panty liners and dark underwear can help protect your clothes after a colposcopy.

Does Discharge Mean my Biopsy Results?

The discharge itself does not indicate anything about your biopsy results. Some key points:

  • All colposcopy patients have discharge from the acetic acid solution.
  • Bloody discharge is expected after cervical biopsy.
  • The amount of discharge does not signify abnormal cells.
  • Discharge tapers off while biopsy results take 1-2 weeks.

Try not to read into the discharge as it does not directly relate to whether biopsies showed abnormal cells. Wait for the test results from your doctor to learn more.


Experiencing some discharge after a colposcopy is perfectly normal given the solutions used and biopsies performed. Mild watery, bloody, or brownish discharge that lasts a few days is expected. Use panty liners, change frequently, and rinse out any stains. Contact your physician if discharge persists longer or becomes heavy or foul-smelling as that may indicate infection. Be patient while awaiting biopsy results – the discharge itself provides no information about whether abnormal cells were found. With mild short-term discharge, you can rest assured it is a typical part of the healing process after colposcopy.

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