After treatment for CIN

Most women will have a local anaesthetic and are able to return home straight after treatment for CIN. You may experience period-like pains or feel slightly unwell for a few hours. It’s a good idea to take the day off work and ask a relative or friend along so they can help you get home.

You will probably have some bleeding or discharge after treatment. This can last for four to six weeks. Contact your GP or clinic if you have more serious side effects or concerns. Your doctor or nurse may advise you not to have sex or use a tampon for four weeks after treatment.

Treatments for CIN are usually very successful. You may not need any further treatment but you should continue with regular cervical screening tests. Depending on where you live, you may also be referred for an HPV test.

If a follow-up screening test shows further cell changes, your doctor may refer you for another colposcopy and further treatment.

Recovering from treatment for CIN

Unless you've had a hysterectomy, trachelectomy, or possibly a LLETZ or cone biopsy under a general anaesthetic, you'll be able to go home on the day that you're treated.

Most women feel fine after treatment to the cervix with a local anaesthetic, but some women feel slightly unwell for a few hours. It’s a good idea to have the day off work, in case you need to go home and rest. You may find it helps to bring a relative or friend to support you and drive you home.

If you had treatment under local anaesthetic, you may have some period-like pains for the rest of the day once the anaesthetic has worn off. You should expect to have some bleeding or discharge after treatment. This usually stops within four weeks but may last up to six weeks. The bleeding shouldn’t be heavier than a moderate period and should get steadily lighter.

You should contact your GP or the clinic where you had your treatment if:

  • the bleeding starts to get heavier – for example, completely soaking a pad within two hours
  • the discharge starts to smell unpleasant, which can mean that you have an infection
  • you develop a temperature
  • you have severe pain
  • you have any other concerns.

Your doctor or nurse will probably advise you not to have sex for at least four weeks after your treatment to allow the cervix to heal properly. You may also be advised not to use tampons for four weeks. You should feel completely back to normal within six weeks.

Research has shown that treatments for CIN are usually very successful. Although most women will have no further problems and the CIN will not come back, all women still need to continue with regular cervical screening tests.


Follow-up

If you have no treatment

If your colposcopy shows you have CIN 1 and your colposcopist decides not to treat these minor changes, you'll usually have a repeat screening test or colposcopy after six or twelve months. This is to make sure that the minor changes have gone and that no more cell changes develop.

If you have treatment

You’ll be invited to have a follow-up screening test six months after your treatment. This is to make sure that the treatment has been successful and that the abnormal cells haven’t come back.

Moderate or severe cell changes

If your follow-up screening test shows that abnormal cells have come back, and you have moderate or severe cell changes, you’ll be referred for another colposcopy.

Normal, borderline or mild cell changes

If your follow-up screening test shows that you have normal, borderline or mild cell changes, what happens next depends on whether HPV testing is carried out where you live.

If HPV testing isn’t available where you live

After your follow-up screening test, you’ll usually have a further screening test 12 months after treatment. If both these tests are normal, you may continue with yearly screening tests for a period of time and then go back to routine tests every 3–5 years (depending on your age). If any of your tests show abnormal cells, you’ll be referred back to the colposcopy clinic.

If HPV testing is available where you live

Your sample from your follow-up screening test will be checked to see if the HPV infection has gone. If high-risk HPV is found, you’ll be referred for another colposcopy. If it isn’t, you’ll be screened again in three years’ time.

Treating abnormal cells that come back

Most treatment for CIN is very successful. But for some women the abnormal cells can come back. If this happens, you’ll be invited for another colposcopy and further treatment if necessary.

Very occasionally, if the abnormal cells continue to come back after treatment, some women are advised to have a hysterectomy or trachelectomy to prevent them from developing cervical cancer. Your doctor will discuss the most suitable treatment options with you.

Even if you’ve had a hysterectomy, you may still need to have a few more smear tests. The sample of cells will be taken from the top of the vagina. This is sometimes called a vaginal vault smear. Your GP or gynaecologist can organise this for you, as vault smears aren’t done as part of the NHS Cervical Screening Programmes.

Back to Cervical screening and CIN

The cervix

The cervix is the lower part of the womb (uterus). It’s often called the neck of the womb.

Abnormal test results

If you have an abnormal result, this does not mean you have cancer. You may need some more tests.

Diagnosing and grading CIN

A colposcopy is used to confirm whether you have cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia (CIN) and how severe it might be.

Treating CIN

If you have been diagnosed with CIN, you may have treatment to remove the abnormal cells. There are different types of treatment.