2021 has been nothing short of eventful, but dealing with a scary health concern wasn’t on my list! When you think about your late 20’s, having a cancer scare doesn’t come to mind. But the truth is, it can happen no matter how young or old you are. Making sure you stay on top of your check-ups is important, especially as a woman.
I know, we hate going to our OBGYN to get that pesky Pap Smear. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it or enjoy the process no matter how many times I get it done. If it wasn’t for my previous visit, I’m not sure if this concern would’ve been caught early.
In this post, I want to share my LEEP procedure experience. It all started with an abnormal Pap smear that led to me getting a Colposcopy, and then surgery on my cervix.
This post can help many women who may be hesitant to get checked regularly or just hate going to the doctor. I hope my story encourages you to get your Pap Smear ASAP if you’ve been holding off on it.
Disclaimer: The information in this post shouldn’t be looked at as professional or medical advice. If you ever need help, please reach out to your doctor.
LEEP Procedure Experience:
What is a LEEP Procedure?
LEEP, also known as Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure, involves your doctor using a tool with a wire loop heated by an electric current to remove abnormal tissue or cells in your vagina or cervix. From the name of it, I automatically went into defense mode and didn’t want anything to do with it.
I went straight to Youtube and could barely make it through any videos without feeling discomfort. I tried to avoid this procedure as long as I could because I didn’t want to experience pain.
Why Did I Need It?
Before my doctor brought up a LEEP procedure, I went in for my annual physical in Summer 2020. I felt fine and had no problematic symptoms. A few days after, I received a call about an abnormal Pap smear and that a Colposcopy would have to be completed.
A Colposcopy is a type of cervical cancer test and it allows your doctor to get a close-up look at your cervix to find abnormal cells. Usually, a biopsy is done and sent to the lab for evaluation.
I’ve had abnormal Pap Smears and a Colposcopy done in the past and nothing happened beyond that. However, this time was different. My doctor recommended LEEP because of the presence of abnormal cells that could lead to cervical cancer.
I’m glad that my doctor stayed on top of me about getting this procedure done. I finally decided to schedule it in May 2021 and the weeks leading up to my surgery date were stressful. I was hard on myself and questioned everything:
“What if I waited too long and the abnormal cells already developed into cancer?”
“Why is this happening to me?”
“What if complications happen and I’m unable to get pregnant in the future?”
My mind went through it all.
The Day of Surgery
Most people do the LEEP procedure in the office, however, due to my pain tolerance, I knew I wouldn’t have handled it well. My doctor had me do the surgery at an outpatient center where general anesthesia was provided so she could get through the surgery quickly while I was relaxed.
The nurse that came in to speak with me before my surgery made me feel at ease. I remember she told me: “Peace of mind is everything. You’re making the right decision.” You truly can’t beat that feeling!
The procedure took no more than 30 minutes and went well. When I woke up I was very groggy and didn’t feel any pain because she had numbed my cervix. I’m glad it was finally over, however, the next thing on my list to worry about was the results from pathology.
LEEP Procedure Recovery
Recovery can take anywhere from 4-6 weeks – you can’t insert anything into your vagina (tampons, suppositories, etc.) or have sex. My doctor told me cramping, spotting, and a watery discharge would be normal during the healing process.
It has been almost 3 weeks into my recovery and the only thing I’ve experienced is an achy stomach and cramps. Thankfully, I didn’t bleed heavily like most people. Everyone’s body is different and you never know what to expect.
I decided to take time for myself after the procedure and focus on my mental health. I stressed so much leading up to the procedure – after it was over, I was emotionally exhausted.
Two days after my LEEP procedure, I received a call from my doctor with amazing news. The abnormal cells had been removed completely and everything was okay. When I heard those words, I felt a huge weight lifted from my shoulders!
I think back and can’t believe that I considered not getting this procedure done because I “felt” fine. I’m also glad that waiting an additional 6 months didn’t make things worse. All I know is, I’ll be taking my health more seriously because you never know what could happen.
My LEEP procedure experience overall wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.
The thought of developing cervical cancer never crossed my mind. I never understood how important getting Pap Smears were until I had this scare.
Let’s be real, age doesn’t matter, however, when you’re in your 20’s, the last thing on your mind is dealing with serious health issues. We know it could happen, but we don’t think about it happening to us.
Keep your appointments with your doctor and get your Pap Smears done on time. I didn’t have any symptoms and wouldn’t have known I had abnormal cells unless this test was completed. Even if you’re not sexually active, you need to make an appointment and get checked.
With COVID, many of us have been thrown off with keeping up with our doctors. Now that things are improving, I encourage you to make an appointment, especially if you haven’t been in a while.
I’m thankful for my doctor because we already know that black women are often ignored when it comes to our health issues. I’m glad that my doctor cared enough to continuously ask me about getting the LEEP procedure and explained the importance of having it done. She educated and reassured me about the process.
Moving forward, I know that I’m in safe hands and can count on her to make sure I stay as healthy as possible!
This was a scary moment for me and I’m glad that it’s finally over. I’ll make sure to stay on top of my Pap Smears and encourage other women to take their health more seriously, even if they’re young.