You just got the news: you need pelvic floor reconstruction.
The thought of surgery can be scary and intimidating, but education can help you feel better about what you will experience.
Here’s a look at what to expect with pelvic floor reconstruction.
Why Do I Need Pelvic Floor Reconstruction?
If you’re about to undergo the surgical procedures known as pelvic floor reconstruction, it’s most likely to treat pelvic organ prolapse. This happens when your pelvic floor muscles weaken to the point that one or more pelvic organs drop from their normal position in the pelvis.1
Your pelvic floor is the group of muscles, ligaments, connective tissue and nerves that support and control your pelvic organs—bladder, uterus, vagina and rectum—and support pregnancy as well as bodily functions of peeing, pooping and sex.1
When those muscles are weakened, the pelvic floor can no longer properly hold the structures in your pelvis in place. The main cause of pelvic organ prolapse is pregnancy and childbirth, especially vaginal childbirth. Other causes can include aging, obesity, or a family history of the problem2; weakening can also occur after repeated heavy lifting, chronic disease, chronic coughing, or surgery.1
When pelvic floor muscles can’t support the weight of the pelvic organs, one or more of them may drop—known as “prolapse”—below their normal positions and press against the walls of the vagina.1
While there are nonsurgical treatments possible for prolapse, they are not always successful. That’s when pelvic floor reconstruction is used to restore the normal structure and function of the pelvic organs.
What is Pelvic Floor Reconstruction?
There are several different procedures for correcting prolapse, depending on the type of prolapse and the organs impacted. The goal of pelvic floor reconstruction is to restore organs to their original position. Some types of reconstructive surgery are done through an incision in the vagina. Others are done through an incision in the abdomen or with laparoscopy.3
Laparoscopy, or “keyhole surgery,” allows a surgeon to use only small cuts and a camera for procedures inside the abdomen and pelvis.4 In the case of pelvic reconstruction, a procedure known as laparoscopic colposuspension is performed by making four keyhole incisions across the mid abdomen. Then the surgeon can resuspend the vagina and associated pelvic organs through the key-hole incisions.5
In some circumstances other procedures are also performed, such as hysterectomy or bladder suspension.5
Another surgery is called sacrocolpopexy, in which surgical mesh is attached to the front and back walls of the vagina and then to the tailbone. This lifts the vagina back into place. With sacrohysteropexy, surgical mesh is attached to the cervix and then to the sacrum, lifting the uterus back into place.3
The type of surgery is determined by the organ or organs that are impacted.
Can I Prevent Pelvic Floor Reconstruction?
Before getting to the point of surgery, there are non surgical ways to treat pelvic floor conditions like prolapse. One option is a pessary, a device that you insert into your vagina to support your pelvic organs. There are medications available for some conditions, but they often have detrimental side effects. There are also changes in diet and lifestyle, such as planned bathroom breaks for those with stress urinary incontinence.3
One of the best ways to prevent pelvic health conditions is by performing pelvic muscle exercises—known commonly as “Kegels” after the doctor who invented them—on a regular basis. Research has shown that pelvic floor exercises can help keep those important muscles “fit.” They can be used to prevent weakening of muscles, and as an effective treatment for women with pelvic conditions.
To be sure you’re doing Kegels properly, you can use a product like the INNOVO Urinary Incontinence Kit. These “smart shorts” are designed to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles from the inside out, allowing you to perform 180 perfect Kegels in 30 minutes. Subscribe to the INNOVO newsletter to receive a $20 discount code for your purchase!
Talk To Your Doctor
If you’ve been told you need pelvic floor reconstruction, be sure to ask your doctor all the specifics, and ensure all your questions are answered. Use our Physician Finder to find a doctor near you with expertise in women’s health. As a preventive measure, and for treatment of conditions like prolapse, consider adding pelvic floor muscles exercises to your daily routine.