LEEP procedure: Uses, side effects, and recovery

During a LEEP, an electrical current passes through a loop of wire. A doctor uses the wire to cut abnormal cells from the cervix. They send a sample of these cells to a laboratory to detect signs of cancer or other conditions.

This article will describe what to expect during a LEEP, as well as the side effects and recovery.


A LEEP can help diagnose or treat cervical cancer. A doctor may suggest a LEEP if a person is having symptoms that indicate a problem with the cervix or vagina.

They may also suggest a LEEP if they find abnormalities during a pelvic examination or a Pap smear.

The purpose of a LEEP is to extract abnormal cells for further testing. The results will inform a doctor about whether a person has an underlying illness and what steps they should take next.

A LEEP can help distinguish between precancerous cells and other abnormal cell types, such as polyps.

Precancerous cells are abnormal cells that may eventually develop into cancer. Cervical polyps are small growths of tissue that can form in the cervix. Polyps are usually benign, which means they are not cancerous.

A LEEP can also detect conditions that increase the risk of cervical cancer, such as human papillomavirus, which is commonly known as HPV.

A LEEP is a very safe procedure. Some people may experience mild abdominal cramps and bleeding during recovery.

In rare cases, other risks include:

  • infection
  • scarring of the cervix
  • difficulties getting pregnant
  • a preterm birth
  • the birth of an underweight baby

Some factors can complicate a LEEP, including:

  • pregnancy
  • menstruation
  • inflammation around the cervix

It is essential to inform the doctor about any of these factors before undergoing the procedure.


A LEEP is useful for screening and treating cervical cancer. The procedure is relatively quick and painless.

Recovery can take several weeks, and a person may experience some discomfort. Serious complications are rare.

Getting the results from a LEEP can help a person and their doctor make an informed decision about the next steps.

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