Intact Cervix was started by two women; Kate and Asha who connected online after experienced devastating side effects from the LLETZ procedure, (known as LEEP in some countries).
We experienced problems with orgasm, low libido, painful sex, and loss of sense of self, and creativity.
The LLETZ is almost always described by doctors as being a simple, minor procedure that has very few side effects. (Here’s what the NHS has to say about LLETZ.)
Our experience and research tells us that for many women this is not the case. Not only are women experiencing sexual problems there are also many other ‘unofficial’ side effects.
When Asha’s problems were dismissed as being ‘all in her head’ she travelled to the US to meet sexual medicine doctor Irwin Goldstein who is one of the world’s leading experts on the cervix.
Dr. Goldstein confirmed what Asha had realised from researching her problems, that she had experienced nerve damage.
The cervix is actually a sexual, orgasmic organ. Dr. Barry Komisaruk has conducted research to show that it has neural connections to the vagus, pelvic and hypogastric nerves. He found that women with spinal cord paralysis, could still orgasm via the cervix. Clitoral orgasms go via the spinal cord.
The problem in medicine is that shockingly very few doctors have kept up to date with research about the cervix. Many doctors were taught in medical school that the cervix has no nerve endings. What this means is that when a doctor performs the LLETZ they may cut nerves that they don’t even acknowledge exist. It’s hard to imagine that in 2018 medicine can be so ignorant and blatantly disregard female sexuality, but actually when you dig deep into the sexism and patriarchal attitudes that have informed gynaecology it is sadly, unsurprising.
An Informed Choice For LLETZ
When LLETZ was first introduced there was no consideration of how it might effect sexual function. LLETZ has never been proven safe in terms of female sexuality. There have been a few small studies, that suggest that LLETZ can harm sexual function. Dr. Goldstein is now carrying out research into the side effects of the LLETZ.
From these small studies it looks as if problems with sexual function occur with 15% of women who have the LLETZ. So if you have cervical abnormalities there’s an 85% chance you will not experience the problems we have.
We believe that everyone should weigh up the evidence and decide for themselves. Look at the conventional medical sites, scientific research, but also listen to other women’s stories. Since these problems have not been researched in-depth, women’s stories are the best evidence we have for what is really going on with the LLETZ.
When you look at the evidence bear in mind however, that there is a culture of silence around these sexual issues. Many women do not realise that the problems with their sex lives were caused by the LLETZ, because any complaints are often brushed aside by doctors who do not understand them. When women try to speak up about what they have experienced they have been told to visit counsellors, had it suggested to them that they were sexually abused as children, or told to examine their relationship for issues, or ‘just take a painkiller and use some lubrication’. A lot of women don’t want to speak up because they feel like what happened to them is because they are ‘weird’ or ‘crazy.’ They don’t realise that there is something wrong with the procedure.
We know this information is scary, but we don’t believe sugar-coating advice about side effects and saying everything will be fine is helpful. The mainstream medical advice about LLETZ is utterly dishonest and completely unrepresentative of what women are going through after the procedure.
LLETZ is constantly downplayed. Doctors use euphemisms such as saying it’s ‘just a few cells’ or it’s ‘just like having a mole removed’ to deceive women into thinking the procedure is no big deal. In reality it can be huge, and can effects us like a sexual trauma. Women shouldn’t be made to feel bad because they physically or emotionally can’t handle an extremely invasive procedure on a sexual organ.
The 15% are not just an inconvenient side effect. We are real people who run into the thousands, and every day there will be more of us. We matter.
If your doctors has told you that you need LLETZ then weigh up your options. Some women have decided that after informing themselves they still want to go for the quick, conventional option and just have the LLETZ.
Some women have asked their doctors about other alternatives like laser and cryosurgery which may be less invasive, (we are not sure on this, but there seems to be less anecdotal evidence of their harm, although this may be because they are less common procedures).
Some women are healing cervical dysplasia naturally by consulting with a naturopath and making dietary changes, using suppositories and supplements. Studies have shown that even CIN 3 can reverse itself in some cases, and it seems that making these life style changes may boost the immune system to increase the likelihood of the body clearing it naturally.
Whatever you decide, we wish you a quick and painfree healing. If you need any more support, feel free to contact us.
You can also find us in our Healing From LLETZ facebook group where we support women who are dealing with these long term side effects
Here are some other helpful facebook groups where women share their stories and experiences, and come together to support each other through the challenges of dealing with cervical dysplasia.
Teal Ladies Pre Cancer group – Conventional, mainly ‘pro LLETZ’ advice.