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Cryotherapy is a treatment that prevents cervical cancer. Your doctor uses a chemical to freeze abnormal cells off your cervix so normal ones can grow back.

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How does cryotherapy work?

Cryotherapy removes abnormal cells from your cervix. It’s also used to remove warts and other growths on other parts of the body. It’s done by putting a very cold chemical on the cells to freeze them and then remove them. This gets rid of the bad cells so new, normal cells can grow back in the same spot.

Here’s how it will go: You’ll lie down on an exam table like you would for a Pap test. Your doctor or nurse will put a speculum into your vagina and open it. This separates the walls of your vagina so they can get a good look at your cervix. Then they’ll put in a tool called a cryoprobe and gently hold it at your cervix for a few minutes. This tool freezes the cells very quickly. Usually they do this twice and stop for a few minutes in between. But the whole thing only takes about 5 minutes.

How effective is cryotherapy?

Cryotherapy may be performed after abnormal cells are found during a Pap test, colposcopy, or biopsy. In most cases (about 85-90% of the time), cryotherapy cures abnormal cells so that the problem does not come back.

If your treatment doesn't remove all the abnormal cells, you may have to have cryotherapy treatment again, or your doctor or nurse may recommend another treatment like LEEP or more tests. This is why it’s so important to get regular Pap tests. It lets your doctor or nurse know if the cryotherapy worked or not.

Does cryotherapy hurt?

Most people feel mild cramping or pressure during cryotherapy. It can also make your vagina feel cold. Some people don’t have any discomfort at all.

Where can I get cryotherapy?

You can get a cryotherapy at your doctor’s office, some community health clinics, or your local Planned Parenthood health center.