If you have had an abnormal pap smear and an abnormal colposcopy, your provider may use cryotherapy to destroy the abnormal cells on your cervix. Cryotherapy is an in office procedure that should be performed during the first week after your menstrual period. It only takes a few minutes and you should be able to return to your normal routine that same day or the next.
What does cryotherapy involve?
Cryotherapy freezes the abnormal cervical cells causing them to die. The dead cells then slough off of your cervix, leaving the healthy, unfrozen tissue behind. There is no cutting and, therefore, minimal bleeding during this procedure. Your provider will insert a speculum into your vagina, numb your cervix with a local anesthetic, and then perform the cryotherapy. This involves a thin probe being held on the cervix. The probe forms a ball of ice that freezes and kills the top layers of cervical cells. As the ice touches your cervix, you may feel some cramping but this will go away after the treatment.
After the procedure
After cryotherapy you will have a thin, watery discharge for two to three weeks. You may have some light bleeding during this time as well. This is caused by your body’s healing process as it tries to shed the dead abnormal cells that were frozen during the cryotherapy. Then you will have a thick, yellowish discharge for another two to three weeks which signals that your body is shedding the dead tissue. Your provider may give you an antibiotic cream to help reduce this discharge. In the first 3 – 4 weeks of healing you should not use tampons, have sex, or douche. While your cervix is healing it is more susceptible to bleeding and to infection. The complete healing process after cryotherapy takes 4 – 6 weeks.
Between four and six weeks after your cryotherapy, you will have a follow up exam with your provider. Your provider will make sure that your cervix is healing properly and may take another pap smear to make sure that all of the abnormal cells were removed by the procedure.