An abnormal Pap smear can be a sign that you have abnormal cells on your cervix that may be precancerous. To remove these cells, a LEEP may be performed. This is a minor surgical procedure that can be done in your doctor's office, with minor restrictions on physical activity. After a LEEP, talk with your doctor about when you can return to your normal exercise routine.
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What is a LEEP?
A LEEP is a loop electrosurgical excision procedure, used to remove abnormal or precancerous cells from the cervix. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says there are a variety of procedures that are used to remove abnormal cervical cells, and LEEP involves running an electrical current through a thin wire loop to cut through cervical tissue. To stop any bleeding, a special paste is applied to the cervix. As with any surgical procedure, there are some restrictions on physical activities for a short period of time following the LEEP.
Exercise Instructions After LEEP
After a LEEP, you should not use tampons for four weeks, to give your cervix a chance to heal properly. The bleeding after the LEEP can impact your exercise if you are a swimmer. Any high-impact exercise like running, aerobics or team sports should be avoided for one week to reduce the risk of excessive bleeding. Dr. Joan Bengtson from Blue Cross and Blue Shield says your return to exercise should be gradual for up to two weeks after the procedure. Before returning to sports or exercise, talk with your doctor about whether it is safe for you to do so, based on any symptoms you may be having and how you are healing.
LEEP may result in an increased risk of pregnancy complications for some women, including preterm birth and low-birthweight babies, says ACOG. Sometimes the cervix is narrowed or scarred after LEEP, causing problems with menstruation or fertility, but this is rare. Call your doctor if you start passing blood clots, have severe abdominal pain or are experiencing heavy bleeding after the procedure. These may be signs of a problem that your doctor needs to evaluate. Even if you feel fine, follow the instructions given to you regarding physical activity to help reduce the risk of stress to your cervix.
Directly after a LEEP procedure, take it easy for a few days. You may have light bleeding, increased vaginal discharge and increased risk of infection. If you return to exercise and start bleeding heavily, stop exercising and call your doctor immediately to ascertain whether you need to be seen in the office. Attending your follow-up appointments is important to make sure your cervix is healing properly, and regular Pap smears should be continued to check for any recurrences of abnormal cells.