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Cryotherapy is a gynecological treatment that freezes and destroys abnormal, precancerous cervical cells. Cryotherapy is not a treatment for cervical cancer; cryotherapy treats only precancer.

During the cryotherapy procedure, a speculum is inserted into the vagina so that the cervix can be seen. Next, an instrument like a probe is inserted into the vagina until the nozzle covers the abnormal areas of cervical tissue. Either nitrous oxide or carbon dioxide is then applied to the abnormal cells to freeze and destroy precancerous tissue at a temperature of approximately -50 degrees Celsius.  

During cryotherapy, you may experience some cramping.  After cryotherapy, you should be able to return to most normal activities within one day. It is normal to experience a watery discharge for the first few weeks: this is caused by the shedding of dead cervical tissue.  However, if this is accompanied by abdominal pain, fever, or heavy vaginal bleeding for greater than 2 days, you should see a doctor immediately.

You should abstain from sex, and avoid inserting anything into your vagina for 2-3 weeks following treatment, and it’s important that you return to the clinic for a follow-up review.

Cryotherapy is highly effective, with a relapse rate at 12 months following treatment of only 4%.  Cryotherapy is an excellent treatment option because it can be used immediately after visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) or HPV testing to provide screening and treatment in a single visit.


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