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What you need to know about colpocleisis:
Colpocleisis is surgery to partially or completely close the vagina of an older woman with genital prolapse. It is done if you are too weak for other surgeries and are not sexually active. You may need to have surgery for stress incontinence at the same time.
Prepare for surgery:
- You may need an endometrial ultrasound or biopsy before your surgery, if you still have your uterus. Your healthcare provider will counsel you that sex will not be possible after the surgery. He or she will make sure that you do not want to have sex in the future. Make plans for someone to drive you home and stay with you once you are discharged.
- Your healthcare provider may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery. He or she will tell you what medicines to take or not take the morning of your surgery.
What will happen during surgery:
- You may be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. You may instead be given spinal anesthesia to numb you from the waist down. With spinal anesthesia, you may still feel pressure or pushing during surgery, but you should not feel any pain.
- You may be given antibiotics during your surgery to prevent an infection. Your surgeon will cut the vaginal lining. In a complete colpocleisis, the front part of the lining will be stitched to the back. This will completely close off the vagina. In a partial colpocleisis, strips of the vaginal lining are removed from the front and back of the vagina. These are then sewn to each other to close the vagina. Space is left open on one side to allow discharge to pass. A sanitary pad will be placed to protect the area.
What will happen after surgery:
You may need to stay in the hospital at least 1 day after surgery. You will have a urinary catheter to drain your urine. It will be removed the day after surgery. Healthcare providers will make sure you are able to urinate and bleeding is controlled before you leave. You will need to wear a sanitary pad to monitor bleeding.
Risks of colpocleisis:
You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. You may have blood clots or pus in the vaginal space behind the stitches. If this happens, you will need another procedure. Damage may be done to your bowels or bladder during surgery. Your pelvic organ prolapse may remain after surgery. Rarely, prolapse can happen again. You may get a blood clot in your leg. This may become life-threatening.
Call 911 if:
- You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
- You cough up blood.
Seek care immediately if:
- Your leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- You have heavy bleeding.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have a foul smelling discharge.
- You have a fever, cough, or chills.
- You have pain that does not get better after you take medicine.
- You have abdominal pain.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
You may be given any of the following:
- Antibiotics help prevent a bacterial infection.
- NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Wear a sanitary pad to monitor bleeding. Do not take a bath or get in a pool or hot tub until your healthcare provider says it is okay. He or she may give you information on how to take a sitz bath. Change your sanitary pad regularly. Keep track of how often you change the pad.
- Do not drive until your healthcare provider says it is okay.
- Prevent blood clots. Get up and move around your house several times a day.
- Avoid activities that may put pressure on your surgery area. Do not lift anything more than 5 pounds. Do not push or pull objects.
- Drink liquids and eat foods with fiber. Liquids and fiber will help you not strain to have bowel movements. Ask your healthcare provider which liquids are best for you. Ask him or her how much you should drink every day. Ask if you should take a fiber supplement. Foods with fiber include fruits, bran, and whole-grain breads.
Follow up with your surgeon as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.