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A loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) uses a piece of electrified wire to remove abnormal cells from a woman's cervix. This usually is considered a quick procedure that is fairly safe, though it requires a recovery time of a few weeks. During this time, patients usually are advised to rest as much as possible, avoiding strenuous exercise as they recover. Mild cramping and some bleeding are common during LEEP recovery, while excessive bleeding and severe pain are not. A particularly heavy menstrual period is not typical, because this procedure should not really affect menstruation or pregnancy, and any unexpected symptoms should be mentioned to a doctor.
During recovery, patients usually are advised to rest for the first couple days after treatment. Many patients can comfortably get up and walk around after this point, even resuming activities that may include work — as long as it is not too physically demanding. After about a week of taking it easy, patients may be able to start exercising, if desired. They are advised to stop exercising and see a doctor if they notice any excessive vaginal bleeding, because this may indicate that LEEP recovery is not going well. As patients heal from this procedure, they usually are advised to avoid sexual intercourse for at least three weeks.
It is common to notice some cramping soon after a LEEP and, in most cases, acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help relieve the discomfort. It also is considered normal to spot or bleed lightly from the vagina for up to a few weeks. During this time, many doctors recommend using a pad or panty liner in one's underwear, though tampons should not be inserted for about a month after treatment. Heavy bleeding and clots typically are not considered normal and should be mentioned to a doctor right away. The same can be said for odorous discharge, a fever, and severe pain in the abdomen, because these also are not indicative of normal LEEP recovery.
In most cases, the patient's menstrual period is not affected by the procedure. This means that menstruation should occur as usual during LEEP recovery, and a doctor should be notified if the period seems much heavier or more painful than is typical. Women also should keep an eye out for the few risks that come with this procedure, with an infection being just one of them. The cervix also may become slightly narrower, which carries a small chance of causing infertility. In many cases, though, women who wait until after LEEP recovery to conceive can go on to have a healthy pregnancy.