Dr. Kate is an OB/GYN at one of the largest teaching hospitals in Boston who lectures nationally on women’s health issues and conducts research on reproductive health. She regularly (and generously!) answers your health questions here on EMandLO.com — this week, it’s about a LEEP procedure for HPV. To ask her your own med question, click here.
Dear Dr. Kate,
What are the risks of contracting STDs after unprotected sex without ejaculation after having done a LLETZ procedure two months ago?
— Le Lletz
A LLETZ procedure — also known as a LEEP — is a common procedure for women with abnormal cells on their cervix. The abnormality is first picked up on a pap test, and confirmed with a special exam of the cervix called colposcopy. Then your gynecologist removes the abnormal cells with this quick procedure, which leaves a little crater in the middle of your cervix. But the cervix is magical, and heals in 3 to 6 weeks, and then appears as if you never had a procedure at all, in most cases.
The biggest risk of cervical infection after LEEP — whether from an STI or from vaginitis — occurs in the first few weeks after the procedure, while you’re still healing. After about 6 weeks, your risk of infection returns to baseline. So your risk of an STI after unprotected sex, two months after your LLETZ, is the same as any other time.
But here’s a gentle yet important reminder that it’s not just ejaculation that puts you at risk: any P in V skin contact or even just P around V skin-contact risks STI transmission…including the HPV infection that gave you the abnormal pap test in the first place!
— Dr. Kate