If you have early stage cervical cancer (stages 0-1), a LEEP or cone biopsy is probably all you need. In some countries, it's called a LEETZ. A hysterectomy is not necessary for these early stages. However, anything less than a hysterectomy is not considered a cure, just so you know. And because the other procedures are not cures, your doctor will probably at least mention hysterectomy.
But since about 40% of women with cervical cancer every year are under 45 years old, there has to be some option other than hysterectomy.
The early surgical options are LEEP or cone biopsy. The whole point of these is to remove the majority of what they call "the transformation zone." This is a juncture where tissue changes from one type to another on the cervix, and it's what is affected at first by dysplasia or cancer. Once it's removed, there is less chance for problems because the target is gone.
During a LEEP procedure, the doctor passes an electrified metal loop through the lower end of the cervix at the top of the vagina to remove a section of tissue. If the tissue that was removed has clear margins, or edges, under the microscope, then you may not need further treatment.
During the procedure, you will be under anesthesia, so you won't feel or remember anything. Before they put you under anesthesia, you will hop up on the table and put your feet in stirrups, just like for a Pap smear. Then they'll put you to sleep, and the doctor will do the procedure, which is only about 15 minutes long.
Some doctors will do this under local anesthesia in the office. For that you are awake. Personally, I was too nervous, so I would rather be asleep, but some people don't like or want anesthesia, so talk to your doctor about your options.
Afterward, you will go home the same day, and usually you don't have much bleeding because the metal loop cauterizes, or burns, the edges of the tissue as it goes, which stops any bleeding. Over the next few weeks, some women have some brown discharge, which is the dried blood flaking off. Until the discharge stops, you can't have intercourse, which takes about six weeks. The discharge is not very heavy, and a mini-pad should be all you need to wear.
I felt totally fine after the surgery--no pain at all, which is how most women feel.
After any cervical surgery, you may have these things happen:
You should wait 6 months to a year to try to get pregnant because you need to heal, and your doctor will want to do follow-up Pap smears to make sure that they're normal. And when you're ready, read about pregnancy after LEEP.