It's a call no woman ever wants to receive — your Pap smear came back abnormal, or you have abnormal cells growing in your cervix. If you receive this news, however, it’s no reason for panic.
The loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) is a quick and effective treatment for removing abnormal cells in your cervix.
The New England Women's Healthcare team understands how scary it may seem when you need LEEP. Our eight OB/GYN specialists help you prepare for your procedure and make sure you understand what to expect during your recovery.
What is LEEP?
You may need LEEP to remove abnormal tissue growths in your cervix if you have an abnormal Pap smear or if a colposcopy shows precancerous cells. We can detect cervical cancer early on with LEEP or prevent cancer from starting in the first place.
During the procedure, our team numbs the area of your cervix where they'll be working. We then use a wire loop heated with electricity to remove the abnormal cells and tissue within your cervix.
Once we remove the tissue, we apply a medicated paste that helps stop the bleeding in your cervix. The entire procedure takes less than 30 minutes, and you can go home as soon as you feel well enough.
What to expect during recovery
You may have mild discomfort and fatigue in the first few hours after LEEP. These symptoms are expected and usually go away within a day or so. You should be aware of other things during your recovery, including:
Mild to moderate cramping is normal after LEEP. You may experience light cramping for several days following the procedure, and you may need over-the-counter pain medications to keep your discomfort under control.
Vaginal spotting or drainage
Spotting and drainage from your vagina are expected after the procedure and may last 1-3 weeks. The color of your discharge may vary from green to yellow or brown to black. After a few weeks, the spotting and drainage should resolve independently.
One of the benefits of LEEP is that it doesn't disrupt your menstrual cycle. You can expect to have your regular period and shouldn't experience heavier bleeding or a longer process after you recover.
During your recovery, you have restrictions regarding exercise, sexual intercourse, and bathing. You shouldn't do any strenuous physical activity for at least two days following LEEP. Don't exercise for a week, and after that time frame, start back slowly.
Our team advises you to avoid sexual intercourse for at least four weeks following your procedure. This gives your cervix time to heal appropriately. You should also avoid putting anything in your vagina during that time, such as sex toys or tampons.
You're able to shower as usual, but we don't recommend taking a bath or sitting in a hot tub until your cervix is fully healed.
When to contact the team after LEEP
Our team provides specific instructions after your procedure to ensure you heal properly. After LEEP, you should note any concerns and contact the team if you have any of the following:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Heavy vaginal bleeding
- Vaginal discharge that smells
- Fever with or without chills
- Increased vaginal pain
These signs may indicate an infection in your cervix. Our team needs to evaluate you quickly and give you the proper treatment to avoid further complications from the procedure.
To find out how to prepare for your LEEP, call the New England Women's Healthcare team today or make an appointment online at our offices in Wilmington or Woburn, Massachusetts.