Cervical cryosurgery or cryotherapy is a gynecological treatment that freezes a section of a woman’s cervix also used to treat some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like genital warts. Cryotherapy uses special instruments called cryo probes that deliver liquid nitrogen. It is most often done to destroy abnormal cervical cells that are precancerous.
Cryotherapy is usually done after a colposcopy confirms the presence of any abnormal cervical cells using Cervical Biopsy procedure. Cryotherapy is also used for the treatment of cervicitis or inflammation of the cervix & abnormal bleeding.
Cryotherapy is not a treatment for cervical cancer.
No special preparation is required by the patient prior to cryotherapy. The patient will be informed of the potential risks, benefits, failure rates, and alternatives to the procedure.
You may take a medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen 1-2 hours prior to your scheduled procedure.
No anesthetic is required for the procedure.
Your provider will perform the cryosurgery procedure in the office, which will require 15-20 minutes.
You may experience uterine cramping during and immediately after the procedure.
What happens during Cryotherapy?
Cryosurgery is an office procedure that is done while you are awake. After undressing form the waist down you will be asked to lie down with your feet in stirrups. A metal speculum is then inserted into the vaginal canal so that it can be held open to allow for a view of your cervix. A cryo probe is then inserted into the vagina and placed firmly on the surface of your cervix, covering the abnormal tissue.
Liquid nitrogen then begins to flow out of the cryo probe at approximately -50 degrees Celsius. The cryo probe becomes cold enough to freeze and destroy the abnormal cervical tissue. For optimal treatment and the best results the freezing is done for 3 minutes, the doctor will let your cervix thaw and then repeat the treatment for 3 more minutes. Although some slight cramping may occur, cryosurgery is relatively painless and produces very little scarring.
What can I expect after Cryotherapy?
Almost all normal activities can be resumed immediately after surgery. It is normal to experience a watery discharge for the first few weeks following the procedure, which is caused by the shedding of the dead cervical tissue.
Do not use tampons or douches and no vaginal intercourse for at least 2-3 weeks. If you experience any fever, heavy vaginal bleeding, severe or increasing pelvic pain or foul smelling yellowish discharge please call your doctor immediately.
Cryotherapy is relatively risk free. After cryotherapy you will be required to have a Pap test done every 3-6 months for a period of time to ensure the surgery was successful. Once you have had several normal pap smears your doctor will discuss how often you should come in for a screening in the future.