Another LEEP description
I just wanted to add another personal description of the LEEP procedure. I found it really helpful to read others, and it was interesting to see how this standard procedure can still vary.
Backstory: I was first diagnosed with HPV in 1997, after 3 years of abnormal paps. I've had low level abnormal paps ever since, and colposcopies every couple years. Doctors have always told me that since my abnormal cells were low-level, I didn't NEED to treat the issue.This August I had a more severely abnormal pap. In September I had a colpo, and the doctor told me I had "high grade lesions" and did a biopsy. As those of you who've had biopsies know, they definitely hurt. The biopsy confirmed that I needed LEEP.
I had the procedure done one week ago on October 13th. It was performed at the Women's Health facility, in the same exam room where I'd had my colpo. My doctor had prescribed a sedative (valium) for me to take before hand, so I was relatively mellow, but not drowsy or drugged feeling. I undressed from the waist down, with a paper "blanket" across my lap. My doctor came in it was time to go.
Minute 1: I lay back while the nurse puts an enormous sticker-like thing on my thigh. This, as another post described, was the "grounding" for the electro loop.
Minute 3: The doctor inserted the speculum, and warned me that she would be opening it a little wider than usual and that I might feel more pressure than a typical pap or even a colposcopy. She was right, but it wasn't bad. She explained that this was to make sure your vaginal tissue is as far away from the LEEP instrument as possible -- you don't want them to bump into health vag tissue while they're working on your cervix, so having a "wide" speculum feeling is much better.
Minute 5: The dr swabbed by cervix with acetic acid (vinegar), same as for a colpo. I couldn't feel this at all, but she explained it was so that the atypical cells would go white so that she could see them easier.
Minute 10: The dr then gave me a shot of lidocaine, which is to numb the cervix and to help minimize bleeding. I did not feel the shot at all. She warned me ahead of time that Lidocaine can make your heart race -- well, guess why: it's a derivative of cocaine! LOL! It's not bad for you, of course, but the immediate effects of the injection reminded me of some of my wilder "party" days. Ha ha. Sort of a rush through my limbs and a bit of a tremor in my hands and legs and definitely my heart raced, but only for perhaps two minutes.
Minute 12: The the dr fed a tube into my vagina and explained that it was to suction away the smoke from the singed tissue. That is NOT a pleasant thought, and honestly the concept of smoking cervix was the toughest thing for me to deal with. Then, the dr began the LEEP. There was a beep every time she turned it on, and the vacuum tube would automatically turn on at the same time. As another poster described, it sounded sort of like a dental tool, but pretty quiet.
Minute 15: I didn't really feel much pain during the procedure other than one sharp jab. I immediately said "OW!" and my doctor stopped and asked me what kidn of pain it was. She apologized and said I shouldn't feel any more pain like that.
Minute 16: She was right: no more sharp jabs. The LEEP part of the procedure is over.
Minute 17: Now the cauterizing begins. For me this was sort of the hardest part. Not even because it hurt that badly (it was mostly just a sort of pressure -- comprable almost to when you're having intercourse that goes a little too deep) ... I think this part was difficult for me because I just wanted to to be OVER, and the cauterizing took as long as the LEEP part.
Minute 20: ALL DONE! They removed the speculum (ahh, relief! It didn't hurt at all) and removed the grounding sticker thing on my thigh. It wasn't like a bandaid -- it didn't hurt coming off. They gave me a panty liner, and I left feeling just fine.
Later that night, I got cramps. Not as bad as my period, but enough to take some ibuprofin.
The discharge was watery and a pale brownish pink. I discharged a bit the day after, and then it pretty much stopped until day 5, when it came back. The discharge has been continual but very water. I just use panty liners, but I have to change them every 2 or 3 hours.
I'm on "pelvic rest" for 3 weeks. My doctor said no penetration of any sort -- that includes penis, tampons, fingers, dildos, etc. I have, however, masturbated since the procedure without any difficulties (hey: if I can't have sex with my husband, I've got to take things into my own hands!).
I've been trying to think of the procedure as cutting off the sick tissue that came in contact with some of my old sexual partners. I tried to think of it as cutting out those places that had come in contact with people who I regretted sleeping with. In this way, it felt less like a punishment or a something bad and more of an opportunity to start of fresh ... with clean healthy cervical tissue and a clean slate.
I hope this is helpful for others who may be getting the procedure ... it's definitely not a comfortable experience, but a good doctor should do what they can to make you comfortable. I asked my doc for the valium prescription, and she was happy to give it to me -- but she didn't offer it. I had to ask.
Good luck to everyone having this procedure done. My big challenge now is waiting out my pelvic rest, and then waiting a bit before trying to conceive. My husband and I were trying to get pregnant this summer, and this has set us back a few months.
Last edited by qver; 10-20-2005 at 10:07 PM.