Cryosurgery of the cervix


Cryosurgery of the cervix, also known as cryotherapy, cryoablation, or cryosurgical ablation, involves using extremely cold chemicals such as liquid nitrogen or argon gas to freeze and destroy irregular cervical cells. While newer technologies like the loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) have largely replaced cryosurgery in many parts of the United States, it remains a treatment option in specific situations and locations.

Reasons for undergoing the procedure

Cervical cryotherapy may be recommended by your doctor if you have:

  • Inflammation of the cervix, or Cervicitis.
  • Unexplained or irregular bleeding from your vagina.
  • The abnormal cells in your cervix, such as cervical dysplasia, have the potential to develop into cervical cancer.
  • Genital warts.


Cryoablation is generally safe and should not affect your ability to get pregnant later. However, it may cause the following side effects:

  • Cramps or pain
  • Vaginal spotting
  • Fainting or dizziness (most common immediately after the procedure)
  • Infection or flare-up of an existing pelvic infection
  • Scarring on your cervix (a condition called cervical stenosis)
  • Freeze burns on your cervix

Side effects of cryotherapy are usually very mild. You may experience some soreness or cramping for a few hours afterward. Some people may feel chilly or cold. It’s normal to leak a watery, slightly bloody substance from your vagina for several weeks after the procedure.

Before the procedure

Before undergoing cryosurgery, your doctor may or may not administer local anesthesia, which numbs only the cervix. In some cases, a sedative may also be given to enhance relaxation, though general anesthesia is not required. Additionally, your doctor may advise abstaining from sexual activity or inserting anything into your vagina for one to two days prior to the procedure.

During the procedure

Chemicals are used in cryosurgery, a process that allows new cells to sprout in the same location by freezing and destroying old ones.

In the event of cervical cryoablation, your doctor will:

  • You’ll be lying on a table, your feet in stirrups (much as during a gynecological checkup).
  • Place a speculum inside your intimate area. The identical instrument that your physician uses for a Pap test is this one. It opens your vaginal wall to improve the view of your cervix for your doctor.
  • Insert a cryoprobe, a hollow metal instrument, into your vagina. The probe is incredibly cold because a very cold chemical—as cold as -58 degrees Fahrenheit or -50 degrees Celsius—flows through it.
  • Apply pressure with the cryoprobe’s tip to the tissue or cells that require healing. There will be ice crystals on the tip of the probe, and it will be sufficiently cold to freeze the cervical tissue.
  • While the tissue freezes at roughly -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees Celsius), leave the probe in place for a few minutes.
  • Take out the probe, give the region a few minutes to defrost, and repeat if required.

Less than ten minutes are needed for the process.

After the procedure

The day of treatment, you will be allowed to return home. Recuperation or waiting in a recovery room are not necessary. If you experience any discomfort, you can take Over-The-Counter (OTC) pain medicines.

It’s common for your vagina to start leaking a watery, slightly red material immediately following the procedure. This occurs because the frozen cells either get flushed out via your vagina or reabsorbed when they thaw out. This discharge could continue for a few weeks. Wearing a pad will help you catch the discharge. Tampons should not be used.

To ensure that the cells were eliminated, your doctor will want to schedule a follow-up visit with you. To make sure the irregular cells were eliminated during cryosurgery, your doctor can suggest any of the following:

  • Pap Smear test
  • Biopsy
  • LEEP


Following cervical cryosurgery, which is typically 90% effective in eliminating abnormal cells, additional therapy may be necessary if the cells persist. Most individuals can resume their normal routines promptly, but it’s crucial to consult your doctor regarding appropriate rest periods and activity levels. For up to three weeks post-procedure, your doctor may recommend abstaining from sexual intercourse, tampon use, or vaginal insertion to aid in cervix healing and reduce infection risk. Healing of the cervix may take up to three weeks after cryotherapy.