Cervical Screening

Laser therapy

Laser therapy (sometimes called laser ablation) is a treatment used to destroy abnormal cervical cells so that normal cells can grow back in their place. It is performed in a hospital outpatient clinic, using a local anaesthetic. Most women need only one session of treatment. A biopsy (a sample of the skin) is required before laser therapy is used. Under local anaesthetic, a laser beam is pointed onto the abnormal areas of the cervix and the cells are destroyed. During the treatment there may be a slight burning smell from the laser.

We asked women about their experiences of Laser therapy.  Many said the treatment was not painful, just uncomfortable, like bad period pains and cramping and the treatment did not last very long.

After treatment, several women we interviewed said they suffered some initial discomfort, and some said they felt emotional and exhausted. It was usual for  women to have some bleeding after their treatment. Some said this was like a normal period for a few days. Others said they bled for longer and bleeding was heavier than normal.

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Treatment is nearly always 100 per cent successful. Most women experienced no long term side effects from their treatment. One woman believed her laser treatment later led to the inability for her cervix to hold her baby to full term pregnancies. Studies have shown that the most common treatment, loop diathermy LLETZ does not affect fertility, pregnancy or delivery. Women who have deeper treatments such as Cone Biopsy have a slight increase risk of developing stenosis (a tightening of the cervical canal) or incompetence (inability for the cervix to hold a pregnancy to full term). Understanding of the effects of laser therapy, cold coagulation and cryotherapy on fertility, pregnancy and delivery is not well documented.

Last reviewed October 2015.

Last updated October 2015.

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