When abnormal (possibly precancerous) cells are found on a woman’s cervix, she might have a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) to remove them.
The cervix is the cylinder-shaped lower portion of the uterus that connects the uterus and the vagina. It is about 1 to 1.5 inches (3 to 4 centimeters) long and is composed of muscle and connective tissue.
According to the World Health Organization, cervical cancer is the fourth most frequent cancer in women. In 2018, it accounted for 6.6% of all female cancers. Fortunately, screening can often detect changes in cervical tissue that may eventually lead to cancer. The LEEP is one way to treat cervical pre-cancer.
A LEEP can usually be performed in a physician’s office. The patient is given local anesthesia beforehand.
During the procedure, the doctor uses a thin wire loop that is heated with electricity to cut away a small section of the cervix.
The procedure takes only a few minutes. Some women feel cramping or stinging.
Women should not place anything in the vagina – nor should they have intercourse – for a few weeks after LEEP so that the cervix can heal.
Most women find that a LEEP does not affect their sexual function that much.
In 2010, the Journal of Sexual Medicine published a study of 58 women who underwent the procedure. Using a standardized assessment tool, the researchers found that the women’s sexual arousal, vaginal lubrication, orgasm, pain, and overall sexuall satisfaction did not significantly change after the LEEP.
However, some women felt less sexual desire. It’s possible that emotional stress that can occur when abnormal cervical cells are found and removed might play a role in sexual desire, the authors said.
If you’re concerned about cervical health or an upcoming LEEP, be sure to let your gynecologist know. He or she can answer your questions and help put your mind at ease.
American Academy of Family Physicians
(Last updated: November 13, 2018)
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
“Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP)”
Canadian Cancer Society
“Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP)”
The Journal of Sexual Medicine
Serati, Maurizio, MD, et al.
“The Impact of the Loop Electrosurgical Excisional Procedure for Cervical Intraepithelial Lesions on Female Sexual Function”
(Full-text. June 2010)
(Page last updated: September 16, 2019)
McQueen, Dana and Eduardo Hariton
“This Routine Gyno Procedure Won’t Take Away Your Orgasm”
(September 26, 2019)
World Health Organization