How Soon Can You Have Sex After a LEEP Procedure?

The average time to wait before having sex after a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) is about four to six weeks. Depending on how much of your cervical tissue needed to be removed you may need to wait a longer or shorter time before having sex. The more abnormal the cervical tissue, the more time the cervix needs to heal properly.

avoiding infection after LEEP procedure
Verywell / Emily Roberts

What Is LEEP?

LEEP it’s a method for scraping abnormal cells from the surface tissue of your cervix. After Pap testing and colposcopy biopsy have confirmed that abnormal tissue is present, LEEP may be done to both test and treat the abnormal cell growth. Colposcopy is a noninvasive procedure using a microscope-like device to view your cervix.

LEEP is first used to obtain specimens of your cervical tissue so they can be tested for cancer or cervical dysplasia, a condition that can lead to cancer. If abnormal tissue is found, LEEP can be used to remove it.

Sex and Risks After LEEP

This isn’t something to guess at. Even if you feel fine and believe your cervix is fully healed, you should still check with your doctor about when it will be safe for you to start having sex again.

The removal of cervical tissue in LEEP can weaken your cervix. Having sex before your cervix has healed completely after LEEP also greatly increases your risk of infection.

Fortunately, infection is rare if you follow your doctor's recommendations. In addition to not having sex or vaginal penetration for a set period of time, these are likely to include:

  • Do not take tub baths for a specified length of time (usually about three days after LEEP). You can take showers.
  • Do not use whirlpools or Jacuzzis. 
  • Use sanitary napkins (pads) instead of tampons.

Call or see your doctor to find out how long you should wait to resume sexual activity. 

You should also call your doctor 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.

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Potential Obstetric Risks

Most people have mild or no complications after LEEP. However, you should know that LEEP may cause problems if you become pregnant too soon after having it—problems that include a degree of risk of spontaneous abortion.

In general, LEEP is also associated with difficulty getting pregnant as well as increased risk of pre-term birth and having a low-birth-weight baby.

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.

In pregnancies that occurred 12 months or later after the LEEP, however, no significant difference emerged in the rates of miscarriages in people who had the procedure.

In another study, 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 rate increased in people who have had repeat LEEP procedures; therefore, it is advisable to avoid having repeat LEEPs, especially in reproductive years.

Other Side Effects of LEEP

Some women have reported discomfort during sex after a LEEP procedure, including vaginal pain, dryness, and a feeling of painful pressure on the cervix. The vaginal pain may be due to narrowing of your cervix after the procedure; this should improve with time as you continue having sex.

The dryness often goes away with time, too, but you probably know that there are a number of vaginal lubricants available that can help.

It’s also been suggested that additional foreplay and heightened sexual arousal may aid naturally occurring vaginal lubrication and help relieve painful cervical pressure by stimulating vaginal enlargement before penetration.

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Article Sources
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  1. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP). Updated July 2017.

  2. 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

  3. 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