Cryotherapy destroys abnormal tissue on the cervix by freezing it. Cryotherapy destroys some normal tissue along with the abnormal tissue. During cryotherapy, liquid carbon dioxide (CO2), which is very cold, circulates through a probe placed next to the abnormal tissue. This freezes the tissue for two to three minutes. It may be allowed to thaw and then be refrozen for another two to three minutes. A single freeze treatment for five minutes may also be used.
Cryotherapy causes some discomfort. Most women feel a sensation of cold and a little cramping. Sometimes a sense of warmth spreads to the upper body and face.
Cryotherapy is not adequate treatment if abnormal cells are high in the cervical canal. In that case, another treatment, such as a cone biopsy or LEEP, is recommended instead of cryotherapy.