For documentation purposes and in case anyone is looking for a first hand accounting. Very descriptive, personal and TMI.
In February of this year, I went into my new doctor for a yearly exam. Since moving, we have had to change medical insurance from a PPO to basically an HMO. (My hubby is military so we are now covered under Tricare. Since we live close to a base, we must use the base medical teams.)
You ladies know what exam I'm talking about. That fun (sarcasm), but necessary exam. It had been two years since my last one on the advice of my previous GYN. The test results came back abnormal, L-SIL. Scary. I quickly freaked out, and began researching cervical cancer and anything associated with it. My primary care manager gave me a referral for a private physician to follow up on those abnormal results.
BTW, referrals are fun (again sarcasm). Navigating Tricare, and military medicine is no joke.
Anyway, I went in for a consult in April armed with my test results and he scheduled me for a colposcopy. Basically it's a pap smear, using some acid solution (vinegar usually) to highlight abnormal cells and looking at them through a high-powered microscope. They take a biopsy and send it off to the lab for testing. The results once back are evaluated and the doctor then determines whether additional testing or treatment is required. Often, they will simply advise more frequent pap smears to keep an eye on the area. Sometimes, further treatment is required.
The office called me and gave me my results from the colpo (as it's affectionately termed) and the results were moderate dysplasia or CIN II, and my GYN wanted to do a LEEP. Again, cue the freak out and internet research. He did make a point to assure me that this does not mean cancer. It may be pre-cancerous, but that treatment now is the best course of action so that it doesn't turn into cancer at a later date.
Friday June 20, 2014 I had what is called a LEEP procedure done at my new GYN office. Here is a link that will tell you all about the LEEP. I have read stories of easy procedures and horrible experiences. I think that will be determined mostly by your doctor. My doctor, Dr. Z was awesome and his nurse, Bonnie, was even better. The worst part was the local anesthetic. The needle pinched and the medicine burned a little. It didn't help that the syringe wasn't allowing for administration of the drug, so he had to poke a few extra times. After that, I didn't feel much. At times he would hit a spot that was close to an un-numbed spot and I would feel zings, but it never hurt. Afterward, he explained what he did, with a drawing no less. He felt confident he got everything, and was pleased with my calmness on the table (I didn't jump around too much, I guess) and was happy about how the actual excision took place on my cervix. He said there was a wide area, but that it was shallow. He gave me my instructions, a list of potential complications and allowed me to rest for a few minutes.
He did explain that this is surgery on the cervix, and does allow for some complications during any subsequent pregnancy. Basically, my cervix, while healed may not be able to support the weight of a pregnant uterus and can become incompetent. Knowing that I have had this done is the first step, and since he knows we're are pursuing fertility treatment, he made sure to assure me he would be extra vigilant regarding early pregnancy, measuring the cervix and extra early ultrasounds. My RE has been kept abreast of the procedures and is aware of the potential complications as well.
Following a LEEP, you may feel cramping, have discharge, spotting or very light bleeding. You may also have some "coffee-grounds" like discharge. Appetizing, right? If you have heavy bleeding, painful cramping and/or a high fever call your office right away. Or, if you just don't feel right and need some assurance, call. I felt very tired following the procedure, crampy and just kind of yucky. Sure, that's a medical term. Very little spotting and no discharge. I rested, and just kind of took it easy. 3 days later I experienced the passing of some tissue, about the size of a quarter. That was interesting and quite gross, but not painful, and not bloody. It just sort of appeared in my underwear. I warned you this was TMI, ha! At that point, I began having the "coffee-grounds" discharge. It is not excessive and I am not experiencing any cramping or fever. I return for a follow up in about a week and a half. The pathology on the removed cells will be back by then as well.
I was afraid this would greatly affect the timing of any fertility treatments, but after discussing it with both my GYN and my RE, we feel we can proceed after about 6 weeks of healing time. Which puts us right into my expected window anyway. Also, hubby points out, having had to have this done so close to our treatment timeline, puts another point in the IUI pro column (which I talked about here.)
Silver lining? It was caught early. I am confident in the abilities and knowledge of my medical team and will take it one step at a time. If this turns out to be worse than we think, with the Grace of God and the support of my husband, we will get through it.
Much love and best wishes,