The Real Side Effects Of LEEP/LLETZ

This is what the NHS website, says about the side effects and risks of the LLETZ procedure,

There’s also a small risk of more serious complications, such as:

  • an infection – this can cause heavy or persistent bleeding, smelly vaginal discharge and persistent tummy pain; see your GP if you have these symptoms
  • a slightly increased risk of premature birth (before the 37th week of pregnancy) in future pregnancies – this is more likely if you need repeated treatments or a lot of tissue needs to be removed

In most cases, the benefit of treatment will outweigh these risks. Talk to your doctor or nurse if you have any concerns or would like to know more about the potential risks of treatment.

Anyone reading this would think they have nothing much to worry about from this treatment. But these side effects are by far from the whole story. That line, ‘in most cases, the benefits of treatment will outweigh the risks,’ stands out to me as being highly questionable.

Considering the limited research done into side effects of LEEP, and the limited acknowledgement of the research that does exist, it’s clear to me that doctors don’t actually know enough about the risks to claim that.

There is a culture of silence about the real risks involved in medical treatment, particular where gynaecology is concerned. It’s up to us as women, to get together, to talk to each other, and share accurate information from our own real experience of what  happens when we have medical procedures.

The medical profession tries to make us believe that it’s all in our head, but we know our bodies best. We need to trust our intuition, and use our voices to make sure that other women have an informed choice, not a minimal list of side effects that is a joke compare to women’s real lived experience of what happens after LEEP.

Here is a list of side effects that I’ve gathered, from myself, other women who have contacted me and from reading stories online. You can follow the links to learn more about these side effects.

It would be easy to dismiss this list, to say that a lot of these side effects are just subjective reports of women’s experience and have never been scientifically linked to the LEEP procedure.

But here is where there is a real problem with the LEEP. A procedure is introduce with an adequate understanding of the long term side effects, and when women report these side effects, they are often ignored.

The medical system needs to take into account women’s subjective experience. These experiences should be the basis of research to prove whether or not the LEEP is to blame.

All bodies are different, which explains the vast variation in response to the LEEP, but they are not that different. If a side effect has happened to one woman, it has probably happened to many more.

Dr. Irwin Goldstein says, my usual analogy when people talk about a doctor says I’ve done 10,000 Leeps and no-ones ever complained, is that  there’s plenty of people who have smoked cigarettes, who live till their 90’s-90’s, 100’s and never get lung cancer. But its not possible to deny the association between smoking and lung cancer in some patients, it’s just a simple and straightforward issue. The fact of the matter is LEEP injures nerves.

If you have experienced long-term problems with LEEP, I have a facebook support group.

 

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Dr Irwin Goldstein on Informed Choice

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Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

This week I got to talk to Dr. Irwin Goldstein, the Director of Sexual Medicine at Alvarado Hospital in California. Dr. Goldstein is conducting research into LEEP and how it effects women’s sexual function.

Dr. Goldstein is one of the few doctors trying to have an honest and open conversation about the nature of the cervix, and it’s role in sexual function. Many doctors are still not aware that there are 3 paired nerves in the cervix, and that it plays a role in orgasm. He says,

The current nightmare is a misrepresentation of the cervix as not being sexual. In our literature the cervix is quite sexual, and in fact it has tripe innervation. There are extremely few organs with triple innervation. The value of the cervix to homeo sapien existence which is based on survivability and reproduction is huge. Because with a malfunctioning cervix reproduction is severely impaired

I asked him about his research and he explains how his intention is to ensure women have informed choice about the procedure.

The removal of the opening of the cervix will result in injury to the sexual function of the organ. So when appropriately discussed with the patient, the patient can say, ‘’Um, I’m not ready to give up this quality of orgasm, maybe there’s other things we can do, or I’m not that interested in sex,.. I don’t want to have cancer. The unfortunate issue about Gynaecology is that the sexual consequences of operating in the vaginal area are not discussed…It’s an issue of informed consent. and being honest, that when you operate on the vagina, it’s a sexual organ…you may without explaining hurt sexuality. And it has to be the patient is involved in the decision making. Right now the patient is rarely involved in the decision making.

Before I had my LEEP I had little understanding of what my cervix actually was. I had never touched it before, or knew about how it functioned. I had no conscious awareness that it was involved in my orgasms but when my cervix became injured the intensity of my orgasms lessened.

We can have what are known as ‘blended’ orgasms, which may involve the clitoris, g-spot, and/or cervix all-together. Our society has focused mainly on the clitoral orgasm. The existence of the g-spot is often presented as a mystery and the possibility of cervical orgasms are rarely discussed in the mainstream.

Many women may have been like me, experiencing blended orgasms during sex, but without being aware that the pleasure came in part from the cervix.

As women, it’s so vital that we educate ourselves about our own sexual organs, before we decided to undergo a procedure like LEEP. Doctors may behave as if consenting to treatment is a ‘no-brainer’ but it’s important to remember we do have a choice.

Dr. Goldstein says,

if you’re trying to prevent a hysterectomy by doing the LEEP then that’s one thing. But a lot of women don’t have cervical cancer when they do the LEEP, they just have abnormal cells, and it seems like the risk benefit ratio is very very different from women that physically have cancer, than women who have abnormal cells that may not have cancer.

If you are suffering from sexual side effects from the LEEP then you can contact me or Dr. Irwin Goldstein directly and be part of his research project. Together we can ensure that in the future women, are aware of the risks, and are empowered to make an informed choice.

 

Curing Cervical Dysplasia Naturally

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12 years ago when I was diagnosed with abnormal cells and told I would need the LEEP procedure there was a little voice my head that thought, what if this treatment isn’t safe?This little voice also asked, what if there’s another way? I ignored that voice, I was too afraid, and too lost and confused by what had happened.

I did know, at the age of 25 that the mainstream medical system didn’t have all the answers. When I was 21 I’d had chronic fatigue syndrome, and when medicine couldn’t offer me any kind of solution, I ended up recovering through practising yoga. This experienced had left me feeling empowered to know that I could take control of my health, and help myself when the ‘system’ couldn’t, but faced with the big ‘C’ word, it felt safer not to think, not to google, and just put my faith in my doctor’s decision.

A few weeks ago, I chatted with Claire Forrester about her experience of curing herself naturally of cervical dysplasia. She was diagnosed with CIN 3 and immediately started to transform her health (continue reading for her protocol). Three months later she returned to her doctor and her cells had returned to normal. Her doctor was amazed, and told Claire that this needed to be researched.

But here’s the problem, such natural lifestyle cures don’t get researched. There is no money to be made by the pharmaceutical industry by sharing information about how organic food, and other lifestyle changes can transform our health. This is the bottom line about our healthcare system. Profits come first, often before health.

You may have noticed that these days there are more articles and information about recovering naturally from cancer and other diseases. Often people who take this route are ridiculed, and dismissed as quacks.

The fact is, we don’t have any research about whether cervical dysplasia can be cured naturally. That means there’s no proof, but there’s also no disproof. In the absence of research. I always look to stories. I don’t dismiss something as being impossible because it hasn’t been proved, because there is a huge agenda about what gets proven and what doesn’t.

Having gone through the devastating side effects of LEEP I know I’d always be open to alternatives, even if they hadn’t been researched. I want the best possible care for my body, and if my health were in danger, I wouldn’t wait around for years to see if someone eventually researches it. I’d ask around, use a bit of common sense and intuition, and look at the scientific research before making a decision.

And the other point is that the conventional treatment for abnormal cells LEEP hasn’t actually been researched properly either! When the procedure was introduced no anatomy of the cervix had been done. Doctors were cutting into the cervix long before they understand it had nerve endings that are vitally important to the wellbeing of the body.

Just because something is a conventional medical procedure doesn’t mean there is adequate research to prove it is the best thing for our body.

Common sense tells me that my cervix was a lot healthier 12 years ago, even with those symptomless abnormal cells. If I’d have the choice to turn back the clock and try to cure myself from cervical dysplasia naturally I would have done it. 3 months of healthy lifestyle choices, is no effort at all, compared to 12 years living with pain and sexual trauma.

Here are Claire’s top tips for getting healthy and curing yourself of cervical dysplasia.

1) firstly, don’t panic…it takes time for your body to reach this state and it will take time to cure yourself, nothing medically needs to be done urgently

2) cut sugar out of your diet, it’s toxic and is the biggest feeder of cancer (this includes alcohol, sweets, cakes, all processed food)

3) buy yourself a blender/juicer such as a nutri bullet and juice daily (90% organic veg and 10% fruit)

4) take good quality supplements for cervical dysplasia such as on Dr Marilyn Glenvilles protocol

5) have a hot lemon drink every morning first thing, squeeze half a lemon in a pint of hot water. It helps to reduce acidity in the body and alkaline the body.

6) find a herbalist who can make you vaginal pessaries

7) I did a juice fast week at a retreat in Glastonbury, although it wasn’t cheap it is a great way to kick start your body and mind towards good health

8) Work on old or unaddressed emotional issues, see a therapist of your choice who can help you with this. I chose a therapist who does “journey work”. Our bodies store unresolved emotions in the body and the cervix is often to do with a loss of some kind

9) oil pull with coconut oil every day to pull toxins from the body, a tea spoon of oil in your mouth and swish it around your mouth for up to 20 mins like you would mouthwash then spit this out

10) I had a dodgy root filled tooth removed, they are well documented to be linked with cancer and many neurological conditions

11) I had some osteopathy from someone specialising in women’s health to improve the blood flow and drainage of the pelvis. Blood brings the healing properties to tissues

There are also many options such as intravenous vitamin c, cannabis oil, mistletoe therapy if you can afford this. I was booked in to have vitamin c therapy and before this happened I was given the all clear so never needed it.

These are the main things I did, I treated it like cancer and massively changed my diet and lifestyle, did more yoga and meditation. Some of these you can start doing straight away and others take.

If I can help in anyway, please just let me know as I am very passionate about this.

Lots of love
Claire

You can connect with Claire via her facebook group Curing Cervical Dysplasia Naturally 

Is LEEP Safe?

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LEEP is described by the planned parenting website in the US as being safe and effective. I know I read something similar like that 12 years ago, and I put my trust in my doctor, and thought little more about it. There’s nothing like reading the words ‘safe and effective’ by a medical expert to put your mind at ease.

But is LEEP really safe? And has there ever been enough research to prove it? That is highly questionable. I’ve been researching into how the LEEP procedure was introduced and what research was done about it beforehand. If you’ve been reading my previous posts you’ll know that there has been no research into women’s internal neurology, so the effect of LEEP on the nerves in the cervix is completely unknown. This means doctors do not know how LEEP may effect nerves involved in orgasm and sexual function.

LEEP (or LLETZ as it is also known) was introduced in 1989, following a study on 111 women. It was found that a small percentage of these women, (9), had excessive bleeding afterwards but the rest of them were fine. The study doesn’t mention how LLETZ might effect a woman’s fertility, or sexuality. The researchers admit that the long term complications of LLETZ were unknown.

Is this enough information to introduce LLETZ on a mass scale and to know that it is safe? I have looked for other research, some other information, about what was known about LLETZ when it was introduced as a procedure in 1989, but I have found nothing.

I had assumed that doctors fully understand the implications of the treatment they are giving people. It appears that they did not.

I know some of the long term complications because I have lived with them for the last 12 years. And since starting a facebook support group for other women I am hearing about the side effects every single day as more women join. These include miscarriage, abdominal pain, leg pain, chronic yeast infections, chronic vaginal eczema, painful sex, inability to experience pleasure when orgasming, lack of sexual desire, and chronic pelvic pain. Add to that the emotional and physical trauma, of having a part of your body amputated.

We have many different symptoms but we all have one thing in common, doctors have ignored or minimised our symptoms, or been told that they are completely unrelated to the LEEP.

There are other symptoms that are hard to pin down, that myself and another woman Asha, have been trying to articulate and explain. After our LEEP we have experienced a profound sense of disconnection from the world around us. We feel that we have lost  creativity and memory, our very sense of being human, sensual beings. I can remember watching a film with a couple having sex, and feeling like it was an almost alien act. LEEP profoundly disconnected me from my sexual self and I am still trying to return to how I was before. Of course these symptoms exist in a no-man’s land, to be dismissed as ‘psychological’ by medical professionals. It’s much easier to do that than to admit, that there is a huge research gap, of understanding the neural networks in the cervix, and how they connect up to the brain.

I contacted the cervical screening department in the UK because I wanted to report my side effects. I wanted other women to know that when that when they have LEEP they risk losing their sex life, because if I had known that I would never have had it. I was told, ”there are no published reports linked to problems with sexual function as a result of the procedure.” When I wrote back to tell them there was research they looked at the studies and told me they were too small to be of significance, and that they were too subjective.

Now this is the irony. That doctors are not listening to women who report side effects from LEEP. They will say there’s no research into what is being reported, and if the research hasn’t been done, then our side effects exist in no-man’s land, unacknowledged. And if a woman does report in a scientific study that her sex life has been diminished, then her voice is invalid because it is subjective.

There isn’t enough research to prove LEEP is safe, and yet in the meantime, until someone does the research, every day women will risk devastating consequences from a procedure they are being told is safe and effective. We will be dismissed by doctors because it’s much simpler to turn us away, and uphold the status quo than really examine what’s going on here.

All this would be perhaps almost okay, if LEEP had saved my life, if my life had been at risk and this was the only option available to me. But I’ve done my research now, and I just don’t believe this to be the case.

In a 1977 research paper in the journal cancer by Dr. Maureen Henderson says,

it is difficult if not impossible to estimate from the analysis of available vital statistics how much of the fall in invasive cervical cancer death rates is the result of continued improvement in general hygiene and medical care and how much is the direct result of disease control programs based on early detection with exfoliative cytology (cervical screening)

I’ve been told by people I’m lucky I don’t cancer, but I have never seen it that way. I don’t believe this narrative, that my health was in danger. Abnormal cells are not cancer. ”Pre-cancerous is a provocative term that terrifies women into agreeing to medical procedures, and assuming that they have no other option. Ignoring symptoms would be reckless, but wanting to keep your healthy body intact is not.

The cervical screening programme and LEEP procedure may save a small number of lives, but how do we know that we aren’t just shuffling around health issues, by causing far great numbers of women stress, trauma and ill health it causes from side effects that can also not be quantified.

Olivia Bryant, Sexologist and found of Self-Cervix, a cervical healing programme for women, explains how cervical smears and other procedures can often lead to numbness, and trauma in the cervix. Cervical screening campaigns, encourage us to ignore our fears, and brush them away for the sake of our health, but what if that little voice inside of us, it actually our body’s inner knowing? If you sign up to Olivia’s mailing list she has a free video which explains about how to make a smear test, a more empowering, safe experience.

This kind of information is what we need. We need to understand the cervix’s sexual function, and not just the medical issues. We need to be given informed choice about smear tests and treatment. And that means real informed choice. Not just hiding behind ”no research” and dismissing women’s real concerns.

We need to choose if we want to risk losing our sex life,  having a miscarriage or a premature birth. We need to know, even if that risk is small. Because it could be us. We also need to know about alternatives.

To call a treatment that can result in the loss of life, as safe and effective, is to lie and mislead women.

The gift and the tragedy of this experience is that I have completely lost trust in doctors. If it is possible to get away with doing this to women’s bodies, then our ‘civilised’ western world is much darker, and misogynist, than I have been led to believe. I know now to ignore any medical professional who tells me not to google, who does not want me to think for myself. While the medical system continues to profit from women’s bodies, we must inform ourselves, support each other and above all, question everything.