After LEEP, narrowing of the cervix (cervical stenosis) may occur, which can cause infertility. – WebMD (1)
Besides pain from the LEEP procedure itself, WebMD lists the following potential side effects to the LEEP procedure: fever, bleeding that lasts for more than a week, bleeding that is heavier than a normal menstrual period, pelvic pain, and “bad-smelling, yellowish vaginal discharge, which may point to an infection”. (1)
In addition, infection of the cervix or uterus may develop, narrowing of the cervix (cervical stenosis) that can cause infertility, may occur, and after a woman has had LEEP, she has a higher risk of delivering a baby early. (1)
In fact, in a study published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Heinonen and colleagues wrote that “The risk for preterm delivery was increased after LEEP regardless of the histopathologic diagnosis. The risk was highest after repeat LEEP, which should be avoided, especially among women of reproductive age.” (2) Dr. Heinonen is from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Helsinki University Central Hospital in Helsinki, Finland.
Why do women undergo the LEEP procedure?
The Johns Hopkins Medicine health library says that, “LEEP may be performed when cervical or vaginal problems are found during a pelvic examination, or abnormal cells are found during a Pap test. LEEP is also performed to detect cancer of the cervix or vagina.
Cells that appear to be abnormal, but are not cancerous at the present time, may be identified as precancerous. The appearance of these abnormal cells may be the first evidence of cancer that could develop years later.” (3)
Additionally, women who undergo the LEEP procedure may experience pain. Johns Hopkins notes that if you experience pain, you should “take a pain reliever for cramping or soreness as directed by your health care provider. Aspirin or certain other pain medications may increase the chance of bleeding. Be sure to take only recommended medications.” (3)
The bottom line though, is that even after a LEEP procedure, women will still need “regular follow-up Pap tests.” (1)
(1) WebMD.com – Cervical Cancer Health Center – “Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP) for Abnormal Cervical Cell Changes” – Last Updated: March 12, 2014
(2) Heinonen A1, Gissler M, Riska A, Paavonen J, Tapper AM, Jakobsson M. “Loop electrosurgical excision procedure and the risk for preterm delivery.” Obstet Gynecol. 2013 May;121(5):1063-8.
(3) hopkinsmedicine.org – Health Library – Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP)