Is It Safe To Get Pregnant After a LEEP Procedure?

The Risks You Should Be Aware of, and What To Ask Your Doctor

Honest portrait of a pregnant businesswomen. Credit: Gary Burchell / Getty Images

LEEP is an acronym used to describe "loop electrosurgical excision procedure," a procedure done to treat persistent low-grade dysplasia and high-grade cervical dyplasia. A LEEP uses an electrically charged wire loop to remove cervical tissue. It's done under local anesthesia, and is normally performed on an outpatient basis in hospitals or in the doctor's office.

Is It Safe To Get Pregnant After a LEEP Procedure?

When faced with the prospect of undergoing a LEEP procedure, many women are concerned about how it will affect future pregnancies.

Tales of infertility, miscarriage, and pre-term labor are often the first things women hear when researching a LEEP. How does a LEEP really affect pregnancy? Are LEEP procedures responsible for miscarriages and pre-term births?

The Existing Risks Associated with Pregnancy After LEEP

Cervical Incompetence. When a woman's cervix is diagnosed as "incompetent," it means the cervix is unable to stay closed during a pregnancy. Cervical incompetence can result in miscarriage and pre-term labor. However, a cervical cerclage can be done to ensure the cervix remains closed during the pregnancy. This means that the cervix is sewn closed for the duration of the pregnancy. Only a small percentage of woman who have had a LEEP will require a cerclage in pregnancy.

Cervical Stenosis. This refers to the tightening and narrowing of the cervix. This can cause the cervix difficulty in dilating during labor.

Infertility. Although extremely rare, a LEEP may cause a woman to become infertile.

However, research on LEEP and fertility is very limited.

How a future pregnancy will be affected by a LEEP depends on how much cervical tissue has been removed and whether this particular procedure, or any other cervical surgery, has been previously performed.

There is also about a 10 percent risk of pre-term delivery associated with LEEP, though many women do go on to have healthy, full-term pregnancies.

What You Should Be Asking Your Doctor

There are several questions you should ask your doctor about LEEP if you plan on becoming pregnant:

  • How do you think a LEEP will affect my pregnancy?
  • Is a LEEP the only treatment option I have?
  • How long will it take for my cervix to recover?
  • When can I begin to have sex again?
  • How long after a LEEP can I try to get pregnant?

During Pregnancy

Be sure to inform your doctor if you have had a LEEP at your first obstetric appointment. Providing your doctor with information, such as notes taken by the doctor during the LEEP and the associated pathology reports, will help him or her determine the best way to manage the pregnancy.

Further Reading

LEEP Procedure to Treat Cervical Dysplasia. How a LEEP procedure is performed.

How Soon Can I Have Sex After a LEEP Procedure? The average time to wait before having sex is about four to six weeks. It may be more or less depending on how much cervical tissue needed to be removed.

What Is LEEP? An in-depth look at this procedure.

What Happens During a LEEP Procedure for Cervical Dysplasia? The LEEP procedure, step-by-step.


"Surgery." Cervical Cancer:Detailed Guide. 04 Aug 2006. American Cancer Society. 5 Jan 2009

"Treatment Options by Stage." Cervical Cancer:Detailed Guide. 04 Aug 2006. American Cancer Society. 7 Jan 2009.

Kyrgiou M, Koliopoulos G, Martin-Hirsch P, Arbyn M, Prendiville W, Paraskevaidis E. "Obstetric outcomes after conservative treatment for intraepithelial or early invasive cervical lesions: systematic review and meta-analysis." The Lancet 367(2006): 489-498.

Montz FJ. Impact of therapy for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia on fertility.. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1996; 175: 1129-1136.

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