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Couples who are planning to start a family, it’s only natural that they will want everything to go smoothly. If you have been trying to conceive for a long time with no success, your doctor may suggest you undergo a LEEP procedure. But you need not panic. There is no reason to fear that a LEEP will decrease your chances of getting pregnant or have a negative effect on your fertility.
What Is LEEP?
LEEP or Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure is a procedure that is done to treat a pre-cancerous cervix. The doctor will use an electrically charged wire loop to remove the affected cells from your cervix while you are under local anaesthesia. Although it might sound daunting, it is not a major medical operation, and if there are no complications, your doctor will discharge you the same day.
Is it Easier to Get Pregnant After a LEEP Procedure?
Many women usually wonder (and get anxious) whether LEEP affects their chances of getting pregnant in the future. The fact is that although there is a slight increase in the potential for pregnancy complications after LEEP, most women do not face any trouble getting pregnant. If an excision during LEEP leads to some scarring, it can affect a future pregnancy, but the good news is that there are various treatment options for women to still get pregnant and deliver a healthy baby.
Since LEEP is done to remove pre-cancerous lesions, people think that getting pregnant will be difficult after getting the procedure done. However, you must prioritise your health and even if there are some disadvantages, the risk of cancer is bigger than the benefits of not getting the procedure done.
Risks Associated With Pregnancy After a LEEP
There are certain risks associated with the recovery period of a LEEP procedure. There is no reason to believe that you will definitely undergo them, but it is still important to keep them in mind as precautions.
1. Cervical Incompetence
Cervical incompetence means when your cervix becomes ‘incompetent’ or unable to stay closed during pregnancy. It can sometimes result in a miscarriage of preterm labour. However, cervical cerclage is a procedure that can be done to sew the cervix during the pregnancy and ensure that it stays closed. But only a small number of women who have had a LEEP will require a cervical cerclage.
2. Cervical Stenosis
This term is used to refer to the narrowing or tightening of the cervix. This condition can make it hard for the cervix to dilate during the delivery.
A study showed that women who become pregnant within a year of having a LEEP procedure are slightly more at the risk of having a miscarriage.
4. Difficulty Conceiving
Little research has been done on the odds of getting a pregnant post a LEEP procedure, but there can be a slight risk for some women to conceive after undergoing a LEEP procedure. Your gynaecologist will be able to guide you through it.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
If you are trying to conceive after a LEEP procedure, there are several things you want to make sure of by consulting with your doctor. Here are a few questions you should remember to ask:
1. Is LEEP the Only Option of Treatment Available to Me?
This question is to rule out every other treatment option, as the doctor may in some cases suggest an alternative method.
2. How Long Should I Wait to Get Pregnant After Undergoing a LEEP Procedure?
If you are planning to start a family soon after undergoing the LEEP procedure, we suggest that you check with your doctor about how long you should wait before trying to get pregnant. This will help you avoid any complications, if they may occur.
3. How Can LEEP Affect My pregnancy?
You need to know each and every effect that a LEEP can have on your pregnancy, and you should check with your doctor for the same. In the procedure, a cervical excision is done, so it can cause preterm birth. And whether or not it will affect your pregnancy in other ways will depend on how much cervical tissue has been removed and any other surgical procedure was performed previously. If you have any concerns, you should check with your doctor.
4. How Long Will My Cervix Take to Recover?
The answer to this will help you not only wait a bit to get pregnant until your cervix heals but also not place undue pressure on it with vigorous movements or exercise.
5. When Can I Start Having Sex Again?
Sexual intercourse is a physical activity which may hurt your cervix, especially when it is healing after the LEEP procedure. The optimal time to wait before having sex is 4 to 6 weeks, depending on how much cervical tissue is removed.
There are various screenings and tests available which can help a doctor detect precancerous abnormalities in a woman’s cervix. These abnormalities can be taken care of before they develop into a condition as cervical cancer develops through procedures like LEEP. So, if you are diagnosed with the condition that requires a LEEP procedure, don’t worry, just go through with it, ask the necessary questions, practice the precautions, and soon you’ll be pregnant again, on the way to having a healthy baby!