How Soon Can You Have Sex After a LEEP?

After a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP), the last thing on your mind might be having sex, but eventually, you may want to be intimate again with your partner. Since LEEP is a surgical procedure, there are some things to be aware of regarding sex post-LEEP.

The average time to wait before having sex after LEEP is about four to six weeks. Exactly how long you need to wait depends on how much of your cervical tissue is removed. Generally speaking, the more abnormal the cervical tissue, the more time it will take the cervix to fully heal.

Read on to learn more about LEEP, recovery from LEEP, and when it's okay to resume sexual activity.

avoiding infection after LEEP procedure
Verywell / Emily Roberts

What Is a LEEP?

A LEEP helps diagnose and treat abnormal or cancerous conditions in the cervix. During the procedure, a thin wire loop is used to remove abnormal cells from your cervix for further testing.

The purpose of a LEEP is to prevent cervical cancer. The procedure is typically done after less invasive procedures, including Pap testing or colposcopy.

If abnormal tissue is found during Pap testing or colposcopy, LEEP may be done to examine and treat the abnormal cell growth. Colposcopy is a noninvasive procedure using a microscope-like device to view your cervix.

Sex After a LEEP

Most people are advised to refrain from having sex for about four to six weeks after the LEEP. Having sex before your cervix heals can increase your risk of infection.

In addition to not having sex, your healthcare provider may also instruct you not to douche or use tampons after the procedure. You may also want to avoid swimming or soaking in a bathtub until your healthcare provider says it's okay.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

You should also call your healthcare provider if any of the following occurs during your recovery:

  • Abnormally heavy bleeding (heavier than your menstrual flow)
  • Bleeding with clots
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
  • Fever over 100.4 F
  • Abdominal pain.



Even if you feel fine and believe your cervix is fully healed, you should follow your healthcare provider's guidance about when it will be safe for you to start having sex again.

Cervical Cancer Healthcare Provider Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next healthcare provider's appointment to help you ask the right questions.

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Potential Risks

Most people have mild or no complications after LEEP. However, the removal of cervical tissue in LEEP can weaken your cervix, and this can cause several pregnancy complications.

  • Miscarriage: One study has shown that among people who have previously had LEEP procedures, miscarriages were reported at a rate of about 18% in pregnancies that occurred less than 12 months after the procedure.
  • Preterm delivery: Another study found that people with previous LEEP procedures had a 7.2% rate of preterm deliveries, whereas the control population had a 4.6% rate of preterm deliveries. The risk of preterm delivery increases in people who have had repeat LEEP procedures; therefore, it is advisable to avoid having repeat LEEPs, especially during reproductive years.
  • Waiting to get pregnant: In pregnancies that occurred 12 months or later after having LEEP, no significant difference emerged in the rates of miscarriages in people who had the procedure.

Some women have reported discomfort during sex after a LEEP procedure, including vaginal pain, dryness, and a feeling of painful pressure on the cervix. Foreplay and heightened sexual arousal may aid naturally occurring vaginal lubrication and help relieve discomfort.

  • Cervical stenosis: The vaginal pain and cervical pressure may be due to the narrowing of your cervix after the procedure; this should improve with time as you continue having sex.
  • Vaginal dryness: The dryness often goes away with time. In the meantime, vaginal lubricants can help. Make sure that your healthcare provider says that it's safe to use these products before you use them.

Summary

Four to six weeks after LEEP is the standard wait time, but it's best to confirm this with your healthcare provider. Having sex too soon after LEEP can cause serious complications, including infection. Getting pregnant too soon after the procedure may also increase your risk of complications during pregnancy.

A Word From Verywell

The most important thing in resuming sexual activity when it is safe and recommended to do so after LEEP is your readiness. Even if you are physically healed and ready, if you're not emotionally ready, that's okay. You've had a medical procedure, and it's okay to take some time to regroup. Talk with your partner about other ways to express intimacy that may not involve vaginal penetration.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How soon can I get pregnant after having a LEEP?

    Doctors usually recommend that you wait six months after a LEEP procedure before you try to conceive. You should have a clean bill of health from your OBGYN first, though, to be sure the abnormal cells are gone.

  • Does having a LEEP affect your ability to have an orgasm?

    There is some research showing that women who have had a LEEP procedure lose some ability to orgasm and have less sexual satisfaction. However, more research is needed to understand how or why this happens and how it can be treated. 

  • How much do you usually bleed after a LEEP?

    Within a day or two after the procedure, you’ll notice some brownish discharge. This may be a combination of the solution used during the LEEP and blood. You may continue to have bloody discharge for about four days. Bleeding can come back and continue as you heal over the next two weeks. Contact your healthcare provider if you notice blood clots or bleeding that is so heavy you have to change your pad every hour or two.

  • Is oral sex okay after a LEEP?

    Oral sex is still sex, and after a LEEP you have open wounds and are still healing. Follow your healthcare provider's instructions about abstaining from sex (including oral sex) until you are fully healed. When you see them for your follow-up appointment, check with them to make sure it's okay to proceed with your partner.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP).

  2. Bjørge T, Skare GB, Bjørge L, Tropé A, Lönnberg S. Adverse pregnancy outcomes after treatment for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. Obstet Gynecol. 2016;128(6):1265-1273. doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000001777

  3. Ciavattini A, Clemente N, Delli Carpini G, et al. Loop electrosurgical excision procedure and risk of miscarriage. Fertil Steril. 2015;103(4):1043-8. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2014.12.112

  4. Heinonen A, Gissler M, Riska A, Paavonen J, Tapper AM, Jakobsson M. Loop electrosurgical excision procedure and the risk for preterm delivery. Obstet Gynecol. 2013;121(5):1063-8. doi:10.1097/AOG.0b013e31828caa31

  5. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Fertility and Pregnancy After a LEEP.

  6. Cendejas BR, Smith-McCune KK, Khan MJ. Does treatment for cervical and vulvar dysplasia impact women’s sexual health? American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2015;212(3):291-297. doi:10.1016%2Fj.ajog.2014.05.039

  7. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. About Your Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP).

Originally written by Lisa Fayed