Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions

anonymous on September 7, 2011

I’m feeling pain during sex after a procedure to remove cervical pre-cancer...any ideas why?

A year and a half ago I was diagnosed with HPV and moderate cervical dysplasia. I had the LEEP procedure and have been getting Pap tests every six months. My doctors say that everything has healed well...and even though my Pap tests are still abnormal. My problem is that when I have sex, I feel a slightly painful pressure on my cervix. What could cause this?

answered by
Ruthann M. Cunningham, MD on September 7, 2011

Thanks for your great question. First, I commend you on getting regular Pap tests to screen for cervical cancer.

Let’s start with your discomfort during sex...some women do experience dryness and discomfort during sex after a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP). Normally, the dryness will go away over time. But if you’re not improving over time, I suggest you see your gynecologist for an in-person evaluation.

That said, you’re not alone...discomfort during sex is common complaint among all women. There are many possible causes for this. For example, one possible reason for the painful pressure you feel is that you and your partner aren’t spending enough time on foreplay to make sure sure you’re both aroused before having sex.

Why should you take time for foreplay? Take a look at your pointer finger...it’s not very long is it? Your pointer finger is about as long as your vagina normally is when it’s not aroused. But when you’re aroused and ready for sex, your vagina actually changes shape and elongates to allow your partner’s penis (or fingers or sex toys) a lot more room to maneuver. If you and your partner haven’t spent some time on foreplay to get aroused, it’s possible for your cervix to get bumped during sex and cause you pain. I encourage you to talk to your partner about the importance of foreplay and spend a good amount of time getting each other aroused.

Finally, I encourage you to talk to your doctor again about your abnormal Pap tests. Moderate cervical dysplasia means that your doctor found some cells that didn’t look right...cells that could become cancer if they aren’t removed. The LEEP is a procedure your doctor performed to remove the damaged cells from your cervix (your cervix is between your vagina and uterus). A lot of people heal from the procedure after about three weeks. That your cells are still abnormal could indicate that your cells are on the mend, or it could mean that you have an ongoing HPV infection. Either way, I suggest you re-visit your doctor and get some clarification.  

I hope you’ll continue asking questions. Thanks again and I wish you years of health and wellness.

Related info:

Ruthann M. Cunningham, MD

Dr. Cunningham is a member of the Analyte Physicans Group. She's also a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, practicing at both Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital in Illinois and at Wheaton Franciscan All Saints Medical Center in Wisconsin. An ER physician since 2000, she regularly treats patients with STDs. Dr. Cunningham was educated at Wayne State University School of Medicine and completed her Emergency Medicine residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, IL.

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