When is it okay to start having intercourse after a LEEP?

Originally Published: May 20, 2005 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: March 4, 2009
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Dear Alice,

When is it ok to start having sexual intercourse after having LEEP?

Dear Reader,

Great idea to ask before you leap… back into having sex. LEEP, or Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure, removes abnormal cells from a woman's cervix. The abnormal cells may have been found during a Pap test, colposcopy, or biopsy. After LEEP, the recommended time to wait to have sexual intercourse or vaginal penetration is 3 to 4 weeks. Even though a woman might feel fine after only a few days, the cervix has had sensitive tissue removed and needs time to heal. Everyone heals at a different rate; waiting 3 to 4 weeks helps ensure a woman will be ready to have vaginal penetration.

While a woman should avoid vaginal penetration immediately following LEEP, she may still consider the option of giving or receiving external pleasure and/or orgasms. If she is comfortable with it, then she can decide to have external stimulation, such as manual or oral touching, licking, and kissing.

During the 3 to 4 weeks of recovery, women can take some steps to ensure successful healing. Using sanitary pads to catch any bleeding from the procedure can help prevent irritation that tampons may cause. Consult a health care provider before using tampons, whether to stop bleeding from the procedure or to manage routine menstrual bleeding up to two months after LEEP. It's also a good idea to steer clear of excessive physical activity for the first 48 hours after the procedure and resume a regular exercise routine after about 2 weeks. Showering, bathing, or swimming is fine; douching or using a whirlpool or sauna should be avoided for a few weeks due to the risk of internal infection.

During recovery, share with a health care provider any signals that could indicate an abnormal or negative reaction to the LEEP, including:

  • bleeding that seems excessive, contains clots, or continues beyond 3 weeks
  • yellow-colored or foul-smelling discharge
  • severe pelvic pain
  • high fever 

Women typically follow up with their health care provider 3 to 4 weeks after having LEEP; which coincidentally is the perfect time to get the okay to resume vaginal penetration.

Here's to many happy landings,

Alice