LEEP procedure and infertility

Christina S. Chu, MD
Last Modified: January 13, 2002

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Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

Is it true that LEEP can lead to infertility or make it more difficult to conceive?  


Answer

Christina S. Chu, MD, Assistant Professor of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, responds:

One of the risks associated with the LEEP or loop electrocautery excision procedure is cervical stenosis, which occurs in about 1% of procedures. Cervical stenosis occurs when scarring after the procedure causes an abnormal narrowing in the opening of the cervix. This may cause difficulty getting pregnant by blocking the entry of sperm in to the uterus, and by affecting the normal mucous secretions of the cervix as well. Another risk of the LEEP is cervical deformity and possible second trimester miscarriage. This is rare, and is usually associated only with removal of large portions of tissue at the time of the biopsy. While these complications are concerning, you should keep in mind that they are rare. If your doctor recommends the LEEP, you need to weigh the potential risks of the procedure against the benefits, namely, the treatment of cervical dysplasia, which, if untreated, may progress to cervical cancer.