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What are the side effects of surgery for my uterine prolapse?

Surgery is usually the best way to treat severe uterine prolapse. There are a number of options for surgery, including hysterectomy, repair of pelvic supporting tissues (using your own tissues or tissues from another person), and suspension of the uterus by attachment of the upper vagina to a nearby stable structure. These techniques are often combined. The surgery may be performed through the vaginal canal or via a lower abdominal incision. The risk of recurrence tends to be less when a hysterectomy is included and when an abdominal incision is used.

The side effects of surgery for uterine prolapse depend to a large extent on the type of procedure. Some procedures may increase the chance of developing prolapse of another pelvic organ or tissue, such as the bladder (resulting in a cystocele). Uterine prolapse surgery may also cause bleeding, a hematoma (an abnormal collection of blood in the tissues), nerve damage, painful intercourse, difficulties with urination, and recurrence of the prolapse. Surgery may also be associated with the usual side effects and risks of anesthesia, which may prohibit the use of surgery in women with major health problems.

Surgery treats uterine prolapse by restoring the support that the vagina had before the prolapse occurred. There are typically three types of damage to the supportive structures of the vaginal wall. There can be generalized weakening or stretching of the support, a tear or hole in the support, or one of the areas where the support attaches can be broken. Like a hammock, it can be stretched out, have a hole in it, or one of the tethers that holds it up can break.

These repairs can be performed using the woman’s tissue to repair tissue. This has the advantage that the woman very rarely rejects herself. However, it tends to have a little more discomfort initially and because it has failed once may have higher rates of recurrence/failure. The support can be augmented with collagen or a synthetic mesh. These materials do provide more strength and may lower recurrence rates, but may increase other complications. Some doctors perform repairs using the woman’s tissue to repair her tissue and only use other materials for recurrent prolapse or more extreme cases.

Side effects of surgery for uterine prolapse may include short term spotting and discomfort with sitting. There may be a little higher rate of vaginal infection or urinary tract infections. Limitations after surgery typically include no intimacy for six weeks and no heavy lifting (more than 10 pounds) for six weeks. Long term, the vagina can be given too much support. This may result in some painful intercourse. Typically, this resolves with time and there are treatments to speed up the return to normal sexual function.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.