What Is Cryosurgery?
a procedure that uses freezing gas (liquid nitrogen) to destroy precancerous
cells on the cervix. The cervix, the lowest part of the womb or uterus, opens
into the vagina. When unhealthy cells are destroyed, the body can replace them
with new, healthy cells.
Cryosurgery, sometimes referred to as “cryo” or “cryotherapy,”
is also used to treat some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like genital
Cryosurgery is performed in your doctor’s office while you
are awake. The procedure usually takes around 10 minutes.
Preparing for Cryosurgery
doctor if you can take an over-the-counter pain medication before the procedure
to lessen cramping during the cryosurgery. Cryosurgery can make some women feel
light-headed, so arrange for someone to drive you home. Watery discharge is
common after this procedure. Make sure to bring a menstrual pad to the doctor’s
office with you.
How Is Cryosurgery
arrive for your appointment, a nurse or a technician will give you a hospital
gown and instruct you to undress from the waist down. You will then lie down on
the examination table with your feet in stirrups, just as if you were getting a
regular Pap smear.
will then put a speculum into your vagina to spread the vaginal walls. They may
examine your cervix with a device called a colposcope. This allows better
visualization to ensure that all the abnormal cells have been identified.
will then insert an instrument called a cryoprobe into your vagina and press it against the cervix.
Nitrogen gas at about minus 50 degrees Celsius chills the metal and creates an
“ice ball” on the cervix. The ice ball kills the abnormal cells. During this
part of the procedure, you may experience some chills or cramping.
results, the doctor will hold the cryoprobe against the cervix for three
minutes. They will then remove it for about five minutes to allow thawing to
occur, and then repeat the procedure.
Aftercare for Cryosurgery
will schedule a Pap smear for three to six months after the procedure to make
sure the abnormal cells have been destroyed and have not recurred. According to
Planned Parenthood, cryosurgery has a success rate
of about 85 to 90 percent. If the abnormal cells are still present, your doctor
may recommend a different gynecological procedure.
you will be able to return to your normal activities as soon as the cryosurgery
is over. Your doctor will ask you not to douche, use tampons, or engage in
vaginal intercourse for two to three weeks following cryosurgery. This gives
the cervix time to heal.
If you take
birth control pills, continue taking them on schedule.
first week or two after cryosurgery, you may notice watery or blood-streaked
vaginal discharge. Don’t be alarmed. This is your body’s way of ridding itself
of old, dead cells.
Risks of Cryosurgery
common risk of cryosurgery is mild cramping during the procedure.
after cryosurgery, some women experience dizziness upon standing up. Let your
doctor or nurse know if this happens to you. A few minutes of rest should
relieve this symptom.
complications of cryosurgery include:
- heavy vaginal bleeding
- a flare-up of an existing pelvic
- freeze burns on the vagina
You are at a
slight risk for bleeding and infection because foreign objects are being
inserted into the vagina. Contact your doctor or go to an emergency room if you
foul-smelling vaginal discharge
cases, cryosurgery may cause scarring on the cervix, also known as cervical stenosis. This condition may
make it difficult for you to get pregnant or may cause increased cramping
during normal menstrual bleeding.
Be sure to
tell your doctor if you are pregnant. Unless they believe there is no
alternative, it’s unwise to undergo cervical cryosurgery if you are expecting.
In most cases, you can carry your pregnancy to full term and then have
cells grow slowly. Your doctor can do regular examinations to make sure there
are no abnormal changes.