LEEP is a treatment for abnormal cells on the cervix. LEEP — short for loop electrosurgical excision procedure — removes abnormal tissue by cutting it away using a thin wire loop that carries an electrical current. It may be performed after abnormal cells are found during a Pap test, colposcopy, or biopsy.
LEEP cures the problem about 90 percent of the time.
If LEEP does not cure your problem, you may have LEEP again, or your health care provider may recommend another treatment.
During the LEEP procedure, the health care provider usually looks through a colposcope to see your cervix more clearly.
• You lie down on an exam table in the same position used to have a Pap test.
• A speculum — a metal or plastic instrument — is inserted into your vagina to separate the walls.
• A numbing medication is injected into your cervix.
• A vinegar-like solution is applied to make the abnormal cells more visible.
• The health care provider uses an electrical wire loop to remove the abnormal tissue. The tissue is sent to a lab to be tested.
• Blood vessels on the area are sealed to prevent bleeding. The health care provider may also apply a special paste — Monsel’s Solution — to prevent bleeding.
No — most women do not feel anything. Some women feel mild discomfort or cramping.
Try to schedule the LEEP procedure for shortly after the end of your period. This will give your cervix time to heal before you have your period again.
Ask your health care provider if you should take an over-the-counter pain reliever about an hour before your procedure to reduce the chance of discomfort.
After the LEEP procedure, you may feel mild cramping for a day or so. If you’re uncomfortable, use oral pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (like Tylenol) or ibuprofen (like Advil).
You probably will have a watery discharge for several weeks. It may be heavy and may be mixed with a little blood. There also may be some odor to the discharge. In addition to normal bathing, wash your labia (lips of the vulva) with plain water several times a day for a few days.
Do not douche or use tampons for several weeks after having the LEEP procedure — talk with your health care provider about how long you should wait.
Your health care provider will help you decide how long you should wait to have sex again. In general, women should wait
3–4 weeks after having the LEEP procedure before having vaginal intercourse. This allows the cervix time to heal and reduces the risk of infection. You can enjoy other sex play that does not involve inserting anything into your vagina.
Continue taking your medications as usual — including the birth control pill. You can also continue to use any other method of birth control.
Most women do not have any serious side effects after the LEEP procedure.
Rare complications of LEEP include:
• damage to other pelvic organs or the wall of the vagina
• heavy bleeding
• pelvic infection — particularly if you have sex before the cervix heals
• reaction to local anesthesia
You should call your health care provider if you have:
• abdominal pain
• fever or chills
• vaginal discharge that smells very bad
• heavy bleeding
LEEP may increase the risk of preterm birth in future pregnancies. Talk with your health care provider if you plan on getting pregnant in the future.
LEEP During Pregnancy
Health care providers usually try to wait until after birth to treat a pregnant woman’s abnormal cervical cells. Delaying treatment is usually safe because it generally takes a long time for abnormal cervical cells to become cancerous.
Yes. Other treatments include:
• laser — A laser beam is used to destroy or cut away abnormal tissue.
• cryotherapy — A very cold chemical freezes off abnormal tissue.
• cone biopsy — A cone-shaped wedge is cut out of the cervix. It is tested in a lab. Cone biopsy is used to diagnose and treat abnormalities that go deeper into the cervix. It is usually performed in an operating room under anesthesia.
Another way to manage abnormal cervical cells is to monitor them and see if treatment is necessary. Your health care provider may recommend more frequent Pap tests and follow-up colposcopies to see if the cells heal themselves. Your health care provider can discuss your best treatment plan with you.
You can get LEEP at many Planned Parenthood health centers, or at a clinic, or private health care provider.
Are there any complications associated with the LEEP?
Complications are usually mild but can include:
• mild pain or discomfort
You should call your physician if you experience bleeding that is heavier than a normal period, or if pain is severe. Other symptoms that should be reported to your physician include any heavy vaginal discharge or strong vaginal odor.
After the LEEP you should not:
• Have sexual intercourse for as long as recommended by your physician
• Lift heavy objects
• Use tampons
• Take tub baths–take showers only to prevent infection
It’s important for you to remember that having cervical dysplasia does not mean that you have cervical cancer. However, treatment of the abnormal area is imperative to prevent abnormal cervical cells from developing into cervical cancer
After the LEEP procedure, make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions precisely. Your doctor will tell you when to return for follow up Pap smears, and / or colposcopies. Keeping these follow up appointments is necessary to verify that all of the abnormal cervical tissues have been removed, as well as to make sure that if abnormal cervical cells redevelop they are caught early and treated appropriately.
The information provided on this site is intended to educate the reader about certain medical conditions and certain possible treatment. It is not a substitute for examination, diagnosis, and medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health care professional. If you believe you, or someone you know suffers from the conditions described herein, please see your health care provider immediately. Do not attempt to treat yourself or anyone else without proper medical supervision.