An abnormal Pap smear can cause great anxiety for any woman. However we want to assure you that you will find the support you need here at Carolina Women’s Health where we offer the best in women’s health care in Raleigh, NC. Rather than dread the fear of the unknown, we want to support you with answers you need so that you can make a sound decision.
What is an abnormal Pap smear?
You may see a Pap smear referred to as a Pap test or cervical cytology screening. A Pap smear will allow for your gynecological team to determine if there are any abnormal cells on your cervix. Abnormal cell growth will alert your doctor to the potential presence or future development of cancer cells. If you do, in fact, have an abnormal Pap smear, your next step would be a colposcopy. Once the colposcopy biopsy determines that there are abnormal cells present on your cervix, a LEEP, or Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure, may be recommended by your gynecologist.
Abnormal cell growth should not be confused with cancer cells. Abnormal cells are also called cervical dysplasia. If left untreated, there is a high chance that they can become cancerous in the near future.
What should I expect during a LEEP procedure?
LEEP is a procedure that can be done with your Raleigh OBGYN so you don’t have to worry about a visit to a hospital with doctors you don’t know. You can expect to experience only minor discomfort during the procedure.
The LEEP procedure is similar to a routine pelvic exam in that you will be asked to lie on the examination table and place your feet in the stirrups. A speculum will allow the gynecologist to view your cervix. A special solution will be swiped onto your cervix so that the abnormal cells will be in plain view. The colposcope will be able to magnify your cervix for easier viewing. A local anesthesia is used on your cervix to numb the area. The gynecologist will then insert a thin, electrically charged wire that is passed across your cervix. As the loop passes over your cervix, a thin slice of the surface is cut away, removing the abnormal cells. The tissue is later tested for cancer and abnormal cells. Your cervix will be treated to ensure that it does not bleed.
How long does the LEEP procedure take?
The LEEP procedure is a fairly short process. You can expect the procedure to take 10 to 20 minutes. Once the procedure is complete, you can go home.
Is the LEEP procedure safe?
LEEP is considered to be a safe procedure. Complications are few and far between and can be done without the use of general anesthesia. However, you may experience some bleeding and infection if you are not careful.
What can I expect to happen once I return home after the LEEP procedure?
It is important to take good care of yourself and watch for signs and symptoms of infection after the procedure. Here are some tips to help you take good care of your health during the weeks after the procedure:
Spotting or excess discharge may happen after the procedure. The solution used to stop the bleeding after the slice of the cervix is removed can be expected to be expelled as a yellow-green discharge. Feel free to use sanitary napkins while you are having excess discharge. Do not use tampons.
Refrain from inserting anything into your vagina for 3 to 4 weeks after the procedure. This means that you should not insert a finger, a tampon, a penis, or any other objects during your recovery time. Doing so increases your risk for infection.
Avoid strenuous activities, including exercise, for one to two weeks after the LEEP procedure.
If you experience any signs of a problem or serious infection including heavy clotting, vaginal discharge with that has a foul odor, a fever or abdominal pain, please alert your gynecologist immediately.