Cryotherapy (cryosurgery) destroys
genital warts by freezing them with liquid
Cryotherapy is usually done in your doctor's office or
clinic. A magnifying instrument may be used to see the abnormal tissue
Recovery time depends on the location
and number of warts removed. Healing usually occurs in 1 to 3 weeks. After
treatment, the following may occur:
For men and women who have had
cryotherapy for external genital warts, call your doctor
for any of the following:
Avoid intercourse until the treated area heals and the
soreness is gone.
Be aware of the following after treatment
for vaginal or cervical warts:
Men treated for genital warts on the penis,
scrotum, or in the urethra should avoid sexual intercourse until the treated
area is healed and the soreness is gone. This is usually 1 to 3 weeks,
depending on the size of the area treated.
Cryotherapy may be done when genital
warts are visible, growing in a small area (especially near the anus), and
Cryotherapy usually is not used when genital warts are
Experts agree that cryotherapy can
be helpful in removing genital warts.1 In some studies, cryotherapy
removed warts in up to 90 out of 100 cases.2 But warts may
grow back. More than one treatment may be needed.
of genital warts may not cure a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. The virus
may remain in the body in an inactive state after warts are removed.
There are few complications after cryotherapy.
Scarring is a slight risk.
The number and severity of side effects
depend on the number of freeze/thaw cycles used during cryotherapy and how
large an area was treated.
Cryotherapy for external genital
warts can be used safely during pregnancy.
Treating genital warts
may not cure a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. The virus may remain in
the body in an inactive state after warts are removed. A person treated for
genital warts may still be able to spread the infection. Condoms may help
reduce the risk of HPV infection.
The benefits and effectiveness
of each type of treatment need to be compared with the side effects and cost.
Discuss this with your doctor.
Complete the special treatment information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this treatment.
Buck HW (2010). Warts (genital), search date December 2009. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2005, reaffirmed 2009). Human papillomavirus. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 61. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 105(4): 905–918.
June 21, 2012
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
& Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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