Information for patients

Obstetrics and gynaecology

Why have I been offered a cryotherapy?

Cryotherapy is used to treat delicate soft cells on the cervix called an ectropian. Freezing this area on the cervix promotes growth of the tougher, thicker tissue. This tougher tissue is less likely to bleed during sex or produce excessive vaginal discharge.

What is involved?

Firstly a colposcopy will be performed to identify the ectropian.

A cold probe is applied to the ectropian for 30 seconds. This creates a ball of ice that freezes and kills the delicate cells. This step may be repeated a few times.

You may experience some mild cramps during the treatment, but no pain. Cryotherapy does not require a local anaesthetic.

You are welcome to have someone with you for support.

What are the benefits?

Cryotherapy is a simple and safe technique which gives excellent results.

It can be repeated in the future if necessary.

What are the risks?

Bleeding: There is a small risk of heavy bleeding (for example soaking through a sanitary pad every hour).

Infection: There is a small risk of infection. Symptoms include painful cramps, a high temperature and/or smelly discharge.

Cervical stenosis: There is a very small risk that the opening of the cervix will become narrowed due to scarring. This can cause painful periods, difficulty conceiving or the cervix not to open well during labour. This risk increases if you have been through menopause or have had a treatment on your cervix previously.

Treatment failure: Cryotherapy may only offer partial relief of the bleeding/discharge symptoms, or the positive effects may be temporary.

What can I expect afterwards?

You may experience some or none of the following:

  • Some mild period-type pain for a few hours.
  • A very watery, blood-stained discharge. This could last up to 4 weeks.
  • You may feel light headed/faint after your treatment. If you have a tendency to faint, then we advise you to arrange for a friend or relative to transport you home afterwards.

If you are concerned that you are bleeding too heavily or have an infection, please contact Greenoaks or your GP during weekday working hours, or Ward B11 out of hours on 01709 424349.


Until all discharge has stopped it is recommended to avoid:

  • penetrative vaginal sex - including fingers, tongues and other objects
  • tampons or menstrual cups - you can use pads instead
  • heavy exercise that causes you to sweat
  • swimming and hot tubs
  • baths - you can shower as normal

Practical advice

  • Please make sure you eat and drink something before your appointment.
  • You will be safe to drive following cryotherapy, unless advised otherwise by the colposcopist.
  • You can return to work as soon as you feel able.
  • If you have a contraceptive coil, it may be left in place. The treatment will not affect its use.
  • Please advise your colposcopist of any upcoming holidays, as it may affect your care plan. We may need to delay cryotherapy until after your return home, because of the risk of bleeding and infection. In addition, some travel insurance companies may not provide you with cover immediately following cryotherapy.
  • If you are pregnant then we prefer not to do any treatment on your cervix. We will re-arrange a date, usually three months after your baby is born.
  • If you are having your period we can still carry out cryotherapy provided that your bleeding is light. Please call the Colposcopy Office or Greenoaks for advice before cancelling your appointment.

Results and follow up

After your colposcopy, you may be discharged immediately back to the care of your GP, but if any tests are performed we aim to write to you within 8 weeks with your results and a plan of care.

Please ensure we have the correct contact details.

How to contact us

Colposcopy Secretaries

01709 424300
Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm

Health Advice

01709 427641
Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm

Cryotherapy - patient information leaflet
Date of publication: January 2023
Date of next review: January 2025
© The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust 2023

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  • Page last reviewed: 31 January 2024
  • Next review due: 31 January 2025