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Cervical abnormalities: CIN3 and CGIN

Healing after a LLETZ or cone biopsy

Recovery after a LLETZ or cone biopsy is similar, though women who have had a general anaesthetic often feel tired for a few days or even a week or so afterwards.

Everyone is different. Some of the women we interviewed who had LLETZ felt fine afterwards and went to work the next day. Others felt a bit uncomfortable and had been glad to have taken someone with them who could drive or accompany them home. Doctors usually advise women to take the day off after treatment. Most feel well enough to return to work the next day but some need another day or two to recover.
 

Lizzie took it easy for a day or so and her husband helped with childcare. She had some bleeding...

Lizzie took it easy for a day or so and her husband helped with childcare. She had some bleeding...

Age at interview: 39
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 36
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So after you had the LLETZ excision you came home?

Yeah.

And was there anything after that? Some people said they had bleeding? Some said…

Yes, there as a bit. There was a bit of bleeding and a little bit of discomfort, you know. I felt a bit periody for a while. But I was allowed to lie on the sofa, which was quite nice for a few days. And I just….

Did you have your kids as well to look after? Was that…?

Well my husband did take some time off, so that was quite nice. I mean I think he realised that, you know, expecting me to just get up and do was a bit much. So yeah, he took some time off and stayed with me and helped to supervise the kids. Really it was only about 24 hours that it was uncomfortable. After that it was pretty much back to normal. But the bleeding didn’t last very long, and the discharge didn’t last very long. I think obviously it varies from person to person. But I was back up on my feet in no time really.

 

Maria healed well after a cone biopsy. She felt tired after having general anaesthetic but had...

Maria healed well after a cone biopsy. She felt tired after having general anaesthetic but had...

Age at interview: 34
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 33
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Afterwards did you have any bleeding?

No. No.

None at all?

No. No. Very, very little, not, nothing major. So now…

Just tiredness you mentioned?

Yeah a little bit of tiredness. Yeah, tiredness. I can remember walking down the street after a few days I was really, really tired. But then with a general anaesthetic I guess, and also I have to climb these three flights of stairs, which are not ideal. So I mean, but I was lucky because my mum came to look after me and, you know, she cooked and fed me nice Italian food. So that was nice [laughs].

That would have helped your recovery [laughs].

Yeah. Oh yeah and another thing I did was I bought a book on vitamin supplements to take before and after surgery. So I took a lot of these vitamins, so I don’t know if that helped. But it felt like it, you know. I had very little side affects from the operation. And it felt, I don’t know, well I still haven’t seen the doctor but it felt that it healed pretty good.

So that’s good. Not really much bleeding.

No.

And were you working at that point?

No, I wasn’t working so that was a help I guess. Sort of being able to take your time and relax.

The healing process can vary from person to person. The cervix should heal completely within four to six weeks, but some women make a full recovery as early as three weeks. A vaginal discharge and / or bleeding are usual for some weeks following treatment and are part of the healing process. This should stop or return to ‘normal’ as soon as the cervix is healed. However, if they persist, become heavier or have an offensive smell, then women should see their GP as it could be an infection.
 

Emma recovered well after having LLETZ under general anaesthetic. She was advised about the do’s...

Emma recovered well after having LLETZ under general anaesthetic. She was advised about the do’s...

Age at interview: 29
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 28
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It took me about a week, and the general to get out of my system. And I spent about two or three days in bed, children running around, but there was people here and helping and I didn’t have any problems with the LLETZ itself, not at all, just bloating really and that was about it. No discomfort and no pain. So I’d quite happily have it done again. But no, nothing. I mean a lot of women get infections after LLETZ but luckily I didn’t.

But no, everything was pretty smooth and good. So I then sat and waited for the results and I got my results last week, which came back, “All Clear,” clear margins, which I was delighted, because there’s always a chance that you don’t get clear margins and that you have to have the treatment again, and stuff like that. So, you know, for it to come back clear and with clear margins, and just to look at that letter and “No cancer present.”

Did they give you any advice like, “Don’t do this afterwards….”?

No heavy lifting for a few weeks, or until the bleeding has eased. But yeah, no heavy lifting, no vigorous exercise, no relations. No relations for up to six weeks afterwards, or until you stop bleeding because I mean they do say four to six weeks, but the bleeding I know can go on for weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks. I mean I’ve known, I know some women that it’s gone on for three months, nine weeks you know, however long, mine only lasted three weeks.

And was it heavy or…?

No, it’s just more of, it’s not a bleeding, it’s more of like a discharge if… it sounds horrible, too much information. But it’s more of a discharge than bleeding as such. I think straight after I’d had it done, probably for a few hours after it was, what I’d call bleeding. After that it was more of a discharge that had blood in it, if you understand what I mean, and it sort of changed between, obviously as time wore on it would go from more of a red to brown and then it basically just eased off.

Following treatment, some of the women we talked to said they were advised about recovery and told that they could have some bleeding or discharge. Several, though, said they were given very little information about recovery and looked for more on the internet. A few said they would have liked to talk to a nurse afterwards because they were unsure about what they should or shouldn’t do.
 

Jo had a lot of discomfort and phoned a nurse for advice. She was told not to douche and the...

Jo had a lot of discomfort and phoned a nurse for advice. She was told not to douche and the...

Age at interview: 33
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 25
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That leaflet was given to me. I read it, but there were certain things that I’m doing that were, which were “don’ts” within that leaflet. But I didn’t understand the terminology.

It wasn’t until I was having problems that I phoned up, and they was like, you know,
“Are you doing this?”
“Well yeah I am.”
“Well it says you know not to do that.”
“You think we can understand the terminology?”
“That’s what it meant.”
So absolutely. Definitely, definitely feel that a follow up conversation, because then, it’s sort of also, you know that someone’s there for you to ask questions to. You may not even feel comfortable within, you know, when you’re at the doctors, talking to a
male doctor at the time, it may not be the right time.

What kind of things, if you don’t mind me asking, what kind of things were they, that you were doing? And the kind of terminology, how was it explained so that maybe these leaflets could be improved as well?

Yeah, I mean definitely. I mean it was specifically about douching. I think it said, you know, not to douche, and I was like, “I’ve got no idea what that is.” But I was in the bath, and because I was having a lot of discomfort, I would, you know, sort of wash them in water over my lower region. And then found out that that was absolutely not what should happen. So it’s like, “I haven’t got a clue.”

I mean, and at the time I was living at home with my mum. I wasn’t au fait with the internet, it wasn’t something I actively went on. I mean absolutely now, you know everything’s changed, and like I would do a lot more research about what I should and shouldn’t be doing. But that was the specific term that sort of added to my discomfort afterwards.

Generally:
  • Women can have a bath or shower from the day of treatment
  • Women can return to work the next day if they feel well enough
  • Sexual intercourse is not advised for four weeks, or while the vaginal discharge continues
  • No vaginal douching until the vaginal discharge stops
  • Avoid using tampons until the vaginal discharge stops
  • Avoid strenuous exercise for two to three weeks (e.g. aerobics, running and other sports)
  • Do not swim for two weeks, or until the vaginal discharge stops
  • Limit air travel if possible
  • Avoid heavy lifting or carrying heavy objects
Most of the women we talked to said they had some bleeding after treatment and sometimes this was heavier than their normal period. Several appreciated having a telephone number they could call if they had any concerns.
 

Lauren was given a number to ring if she had any problems. She had a lot of vaginal discharge but...

Lauren was given a number to ring if she had any problems. She had a lot of vaginal discharge but...

Age at interview: 25
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 25
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It really wasn’t as bad as I expected. They built it up as if I might have very heavy bleeding, and I had these emergency numbers to call if, in the next couple of days, it was unbearable. But I had quite minimal bleeding really. Quite a heavy discharge I have to say. Quite a lot of that but I didn’t find that too concerning. I didn’t really feel tired, slightly sore but nothing you know, nothing sort of debilitating really. I had the rest of the day off work where I just came home and watched TV, but…

And back to work the next day?

I didn’t actually, only because my job’s very flexible and that, I can work from home. So I worked from, I had it done on a Wednesday and I worked from home on the Thursday and Friday.

Yeah, and were you more or less back to normal next, the following week? Or did it take a week or so to…?


I think it took about a week before the discharge had stopped. I was still noticing a lot of that, and quite a different discharge to what I’d ever had before.


After the treatment and you went back to work, did you just get back to life as normal, carried on as normal and….?

Yeah, pretty much yep, yeah and I think, I don’t really think about it now. I don’t, I mean up until I had the results I guess I thought about it every week or something. You know, I wonder if it’s, if I’m going to need to have it done again. But the actual procedure itself was I thought pretty simple and not really that bad at all. So I wasn’t, even if I had to go back and have it done again, I wasn’t really that worried about it.

Because the procedure was so simple and painless?

Yeah, fairly painless I would say. You felt it, obviously it wasn’t comfortable, but I wouldn’t really say it’s painful. Just yeah, I thought it was okay. I thought the staff were really helpful. Didn’t really take that long to do. I didn’t really have that many symptoms after it that were brought on by the treatment. So, I guess I wasn’t really concerned. And then once I got the letter saying there was no evidence of cancer, then I was pretty pleased and I haven’t really thought about it since.

Some women said they had very heavy bleeding after treatment. They were unsure how normal this was and whether they needed to see a doctor. Several said they would have liked more information about what to expect afterwards and when to seek advice (see Information’).

 

A doctor explains that the bleeding after treatment is normally like a period or slightly heavier.

A doctor explains that the bleeding after treatment is normally like a period or slightly heavier.

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The bleeding is normally like a period, maybe slightly heavier than a period. And the natural, what usually tends to happen is the bleeding tails off. If it suddenly starts to become heavier, or becomes a bit smelly, then that might imply that there is an infection, in which case they [women] should see a doctor.

 

Susan bled heavily for about 8 days and wondered if this was normal. She carried on working but...

Susan bled heavily for about 8 days and wondered if this was normal. She carried on working but...

Age at interview: 31
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 25
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After the appointment my partner and I walked home, and I remember feeling a little bit woozy but feeling quite happy because I knew that I was comfortable and wasn’t in pain. And I didn’t feel upset or depressed at all actually. I felt quite relieved that it was over and I knew that I’d done what needed to be done. So we went home and I planned to have the next day off work, which was quite nice, so I could just rest and relax.

I was told to expect some bleeding, perhaps a bit like a normal period, maybe a bit heavier, and that I had to use pads rather than tampons, which most girls wouldn’t like but you appreciate that that’s what you have to do. I had a good night, slept well.

The next day I woke up. I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth and I coughed. And this massive, massive plug of blood fell out and hit the floor. And I remember just the sound of it, this thud, and you looked down and I was like, “Okay. That’s not supposed to happen.” And I looked down, and I know things look more when they’re on the floor, so I knew it wasn’t hundreds of mls that I’d lost. But I was looking there thinking, “I know they say phone if you’ve got any concerns. Shall I phone? Or shouldn’t I?”

So I left it for a bit, and I didn’t phone in the end, but I did continue to bleed quite heavily for quite a few days. And it gets to the stage where you’re like, “Is this a heavy period or is this more?” And you’re never really quite sure, having never been through it before and I was working long shifts, on my feet. Quite active, and I was changing every hour, going through sanitary aids like there’s no tomorrow. And you think, this is a bit inconvenient now. And I was starting to get a bit tired and a bit probably anaemic I think, and a bit depressed and a bit weepy. And that’s when I think reality hit home, of what had happened to me really and that it was an invasive procedure. And I think sometimes you feel you need a bit of TLC I think. And looked after myself. I treated myself when I got in to a takeaway and a film and…

Were you still working every day? Long hours?

I was working. For about three or four days in a row, but looking forward to my time off and I knew that that would come to an end quite soon. And things got better. I’d made sure I took lots of iron and ate well, and slept and looked after myself. And things got better and then got back to normal.

That’s good. So how long did this bleeding carry on for?

It probably went on for maybe seven days in total. Seven or eight days, but it got lighter towards the end. So it was probably heavy for maybe four or five days, and then became a bit lighter and more manageable. And then tailed off.

 

Anna bled heavily after playing Frisbee in the park. After a few days she went to see her GP, who...

Anna bled heavily after playing Frisbee in the park. After a few days she went to see her GP, who...

Age at interview: 34
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 33
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I bled quite a lot for me. Well I’m the sort of person that has very light periods, so for me anything more than a very small bleed was quite frightening. And it stopped and then I thought that everything was okay. And then I went to see my parents and my brothers, and we’re quite an active family and we went to the park and we were all running around and playing Frisbee and messing about. And then after that I started bleeding really heavily and I don’t know whether it was linked at all, but that’s what happened.

But I think what it was my period but it was a lot heavier than normal. So that, I found that quite worrying and then I looked on the internet quite a lot to see whether that was more. And it was kind of, it was a little bit frustrating because people either seemed to have bled lots and had an infection and really horrible things had happened, or nothing.

So I kind of knew that I wasn’t bleeding enough for it to be some terrible infection or something that had gone horribly wrong, but I wasn’t absolutely sure about that. So I was really quite worried for a few days, and then I decided to go and see the GP. And she couldn’t, she examined me and she couldn’t see where the bleeding was coming from. And she did a urine test that showed no infection. So she said well I think it’s probably just your period and it’s heavier than usual because of the treatment. And she gave me tablets to stop my period. And after a couple of days that worked and then my next cycle was normal.

So the tablets just stopped that particularly heavy period?

Yeah.

And then the next one was normal in terms of the time and the amount of blood?


Just the same as a normal period.

A few women bled extremely heavily and needed further treatment. All of them went on to recover well and have been clear of abnormal cells since.

 

Alaina haemorrhaged the day after having treatment. She was very frightened and phoned the...

Alaina haemorrhaged the day after having treatment. She was very frightened and phoned the...

Age at interview: 25
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 25
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I felt fine until the Saturday night when I was out, and I started haemorrhaging. And I was terrified.

So lots and lots of bleeding?

Incredibly. I mean I’d heard, and one of my housemates actually had a friend that said after she’d had it done she did have a lot of blood but I couldn’t have imagined how much blood. And I was in a bar, which didn’t help. And basically I just hopped right in a taxi to the hospital.

And were you in central London?

I was, and I actually, it got quite heavy. I was considering going home and I thought no, I’m probably better off staying in central London because I’m closer to the hospital that I was told to go to, were that to happen. So I called up one of my housemates and got him to give me the number I was supposed to call if I had such symptoms, phoned them.

They said to come down to A&E [Accident and Emergency] at the recommended hospital. I was absolutely terrified finding out an hour later when I realised how much I was actually bleeding. Jumped in a taxi, went to the hospital. Went to A&E. Was eventually seen.

Were you given any medication or what happened there?

They did. I think it was silver something. They did use some chemical basically to stop the bleeding, to help seal the wound again. I think it’s the same stuff they use at the end of your loop diathermy … so they did that. Then I was put in a room and then eventually I was moved. But when they went to move me and I stood up, I started pouring blood again. So then they were talking about possibly putting me into theatre, or packing me and using a catheter. It all sounded very horrible. But fortunately the bleeding stopped again and then I was just kept in the hospital over night and for the remainder of the next day on a drip.

And what happened after that? It, it kind of just stopped by itself or?


Yeah. So I guess the chemical treatment worked.

 

Anne Marie had a haemorrhage a week after having a cone biopsy. She was rushed into hospital and...

Anne Marie had a haemorrhage a week after having a cone biopsy. She was rushed into hospital and...

Age at interview: 44
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 29
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Unfortunately, literally a week to the day of the operation, there was a haemorrhage. And not being that educated about those sort of things, it is obvious to me now. When I went into A&E [Accident and Emergency] they said to me, it was a female doctor who was brilliant, she said, “Look at the difference between that blood, the colour of it, and say blood from an old wound or a period. The period blood is darker. This is bright red. So it’s a haemorrhage.”

So you were bleeding very heavily, using sanitary towels?

Very. Yeah.

Every…?


Well they said to me they were trying to ascertain how much blood I’d lost before they’d checked. And then eventually the female doctor said, in A&E, said to me, how many sanitary towels have you got through in an hour? And I said, “Six.” And she goes, “Six an hour every day?” And I said, “Yes.”

We were wheeled into a room and the ambulance staff, I heard them outside talking to whoever it was, saying she’s bleeding. You need to speak to her as soon as possible. And in fact after a few minutes, somebody did come in. They examined me. I think once they had a look and realised what was going, the blood was literally very heavy, bleeding heavily, and she ran off quickly to get the gynaecologist out of bed, because this was about one o’clock in the morning.

He came down. They then linked me up to one of those machines that does your blood pressure automatically. Then I felt myself passing out. And I could hear them talking to my husband about blood transfusions.

 

Genevieve bled extremely heavily the day after having LLETZ under general anaesthetic. She went...

Genevieve bled extremely heavily the day after having LLETZ under general anaesthetic. She went...

Age at interview: 41
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 33
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I had a light general anaesthetic. Went in that morning and my husband came with me. And it was, you know, it was absolutely fine. I knew what to expect. I actually thought I would be more uncomfortable afterwards than I was, given what they were doing.

But I left at six o’clock that evening, and felt fine. Was reassured that everything had gone very well and that they’d be in touch. And then I took a few days off work, but the next day I had been sitting down doing some ironing, trying to rest. And I stood up to go to the toilet and just had a huge bleed. I don’t know why, but something hadn’t been sealed, or I don’t really know, but I…

So you just started bleeding?


Oh I just yeah,

Poured out?

Poured out. So I called the hospital number, of the ward I’d been on and they said, “Well that’s not abnormal for you to bleed afterwards.” So they said, “Go to bed, take a couple of paracetamol and just go to bed and drink plenty of fluids.” And let them know. And I had sanitary towels that I was using, which they had given me when I left the hospital. And I was going through one every sort of 15 minutes, and was just feeling quite shocked at that stage and shaky. And my husband had gone back to work at that stage, so I called him. I called my sister, and called the hospital again, and I just said, “I just don’t feel right.”

So I just got straight into a taxi and went in and yeah, they just couldn’t stop the bleeding. So I had to have another, a minor procedure to stitch or cauterise, whatever it is they had to do to stop it. And then I was fine. I’d a very quick recovery after that.

A few women said they felt discomfort or had cramps, and took painkillers such as paracetamol. Pam felt a lot of pain and phoned her GP for advice. She said the pain eased with time. Several women had felt a bit drained or tired for a while. Susan said she ate well, increased her intake of iron and got plenty of rest, and believed this helped her to recover.

More experiences of healing after treatment can be found on our - Cervical Screening site.
 

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Last reviewed July 2017.
Last updated April 2012.
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