Post Pelvic or Vaginal Surgery Tips and Tools

What Is Pelvic Surgery?

Pelvic surgeries are a surgical treatment option used to manage conditions of the pelvis.

Surgery may be necessary or unpreventable for urogynecological issues such as incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse, as well as, endometriosis excision, cancer treatment, hysterectomy, vaginoplasty, and injury or trauma repair.

After Surgery

Following a pelvic surgery there is typically a 6-8 week healing phase, which could be longer or shorter depending on the specifics of your surgery. During this time some discomfort is expected and not cause for alarm.

After a pelvic surgery it is not uncommon to experience pain, swelling, and difficulty with sexual and bowel or bladder function. These symptoms are often temporary, but complications can persist following the recovery phase.

Potential complications following surgery can include pain with intercourse (dyspareunia), pelvic floor tension, scar tissue, dryness, decreased libido, and difficulty using the bathroom.

Pelvic Physical Therapy for Pelvic Rehabilitation

Pelvic physical therapy is often used as a conservative treatment prior to surgery, but it is also beneficial following the healing phase of pelvic surgery.

A pelvic floor specialist will ask questions about your pelvic symptoms, bowel and bladder habits, and sexual function. Discussing these topics can feel uncomfortable, but these experts are trained to guide you through this process and put you at ease.

Your therapist will provide education regarding your pelvic floor and your particular surgery and then they will further examine your pelvis. They will walk you through each part of the examination and make sure you feel comfortable.

This examination can include an evaluation of your posture, breathing patterns, abdominal muscles, hip muscles, and your pelvic floor. The pelvic floor can be partially assessed externally as well as via an internal examination. This will help to determine strength, flexibility, endurance, and coordination in addition to areas of tension or scar tissue.

Your pelvic therapist and you will then decide on a plan of care to help you fully recover and maintain the positive results from your surgery.

Tools to Help Your Pelvic Anatomy Recover

Part of your treatment plan prior to and post surgery can include a variety of pelvic tools including dilators, wands/arc, diet changes, lubrication, and salves or balms.

Your diet plays a large role in healing and in the function of your pelvic anatomy. Your doctor and therapist may discuss this with you during your visit. Certain foods can be inflammatory to your body and others can assist in healing. For example, caffeine can cause bladder irritation and increase urinary frequency and it will be important to drink plenty of water.

If dryness and pain with sex continues it will be important to use proper lubrication as well as soothing balms or salves. Talk to your provider about which ones are right for you.

In addition, dilators and pelvic wands/arcs can assist in gentle stretching and relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles and tissue.

Vaginal dilators come in different sizes and can help you reduce pain and improve sexual function.

The VWELL Arc can assist in improving circulation, breaking up scar tissue, and reducing tension and trigger points that may be causing pain and discomfort in the pelvic floor.

Post written by Dr. Cassandra Sharp PT, DPT


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