The acronym LEEP stands for loop electrosurgical excision procedure. It is used to treat high-grade cervical dysplasia (abnormal changes in cells on the surface of your cervix) that is discovered by your doctor during a colposcopic examination. A colposcopy is a procedure that allows your doctor to examine your cervix carefully with an instrument called a colposcope (a binocular-like instrument that is pointed at your vaginal opening. If your Pap smear results are abnormal, your doctor may recommend a colposcopy to investigate the abnormalities
How do I prepare for a LEEP procedure?
By making sure, you are not on your period (so that your doctor can see your cervix better) you are helping the efficacy of the LEEP procedure.
What are the advantages of a LEEP procedure?
- Ease of Use
- High Success Rate
- Low Cost
- Outpatient Procedure
What are the disadvantages of a LEEP procedure?
Complications that result from a LEEP procedure are less frequent when compared to a cold knife conization, but there are still small chances of infection and hemorrhage.
Will a LEEP procedure affect my fertility?
There are some associations between the surgical treatment of CIN lesions and risk of infertility. Scarring of the cervix is thought to cause more difficulty conceiving. Studies have also shown that women who achieved pregnancy less than one year after their LEEP procedures experienced a significantly increased risk of spontaneous abortions and miscarriages.
How is a LEEP procedure done?
Since there is no hospital stay required, a LEEP procedure is done at an outpatient wing of a hospital, at your doctor’s office, or at a clinic. You are required to take off your clothes below your waist and drape a paper or cloth covering over yourself. Then you will lie on your back as you would for any gynecological exam. A speculum is inserted into your vagina, and numbing medicine is injected into your cervix. To remove the unwanted growths of tissues (lesions) on your cervix, your doctor will use a wire loop that has an electric current passing through it to eliminate these lesions. The strength of the electric current and the shape and size of the loop will vary depending on the size and orientations of your lesions. Your doctor will make the first pass and remove what needs to be removed and then some. A second pass may be made with a narrower loop to obtain a specimen for further evaluation.
Your doctor will excise (destroy and remove) your lesions and then some, usually extending the excision 4 or 5 mm beyond the area where the lesions end. Because the instrument used is electrically charged, it simultaneously cuts and cauterizes (stops bleeding and prevents infection) your lesion or lesions.
What are the risks of getting a LEEP procedure?
- Early Birth: After you have had a LEEP procedure, you have a higher risk of delivering a baby early.
- Infection: Developing an infection of the cervix or uterus may occur although it is rare.
- Narrowing: Narrowing of the cervix, or cervical stenosis, can occur after a LEEP procedure and lead to infertility, although it is rare.
What should I expect to experience after my LEEP procedure?
- Dark Brown Discharge
- Mild Cramping
- Spotting or Vaginal Discharge
What things should I avoid after my LEEP procedure?
- Douching: Do not douche under any circumstance. Douching can lead to infection.
- Sexual Intercourse: Avoid having sex for at least three weeks after your LEEP procedure.
- Tampons: Pads and not tampons should be used for at least three weeks.
If you experience any of the following symptoms after your procedure you should call your doctor and seek immediate medical care:
- Recurrent Pain: If you have pain that does not get better after you take medicine.
- Severe Vaginal Bleeding: Passing clots of blood and soaking through your pads each hour for more than two hours.
- Signs of Infection: Increased pain, bad-smelling vaginal discharge, and fever are all evidence of an infection.
You should be able to return to your normal activities within three days after LEEP is performed. Recovery time may be longer depending on how much was excised during the procedure.
How can I protect the health of my cervix?
- Sexual Partners: By using a condom every time, and limiting the number of sexual partners in your life you can reduce your risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
- Screening: Getting regular pelvic exams and screenings for cervical cancer is necessary to protect the health of your cervix. Catching issues and abnormalities early make treatment feel easier and run more smoothly.
- Smoking: Stop smoking. In addition to decreasing your lifespan, smoking and exposure to cigarette smoke increases your risk of cervical cancer.
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