Life after pelvic organ prolapse surgery: a guide to recovery | Nuffield Health (2023)

What is pelvic organ prolapse surgery?

Life after pelvic organ prolapse surgery: a guide to recovery | Nuffield Health (1)

Perhaps you’ve had a pelvic organ prolapse, and non-surgical treatments aren’t helping? Or maybe your prolapse is more severe? If so, your surgeon may recommend, pelvic organ prolapse surgery.

This surgery involves lifting the pelvic organs, such as the bladder, bowel and uterus, and stitching the tissues around them to give you more support.

After pelvic organ prolapse surgery

What happens after pelvic organ prolapse surgery?

A nurse will take you back to the ward to look after you and give you painkillers to relieve any discomfort. You may have a drip in your arm and a catheter in your bladder - a nurse will usually remove these after 24 hours.

You may also experience some vaginal bleeding (like a period) or discharge. Gauze may be placed inside your vagina to act as a bandage for the first 24 hours, which can be slightly uncomfortable. You’ll also need to wear sanitary pads for a few days or weeks.

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When can I go home after pelvic organ prolapse surgery?

You’ll usually need to stay in hospital overnight or for a few days. Most women can go home once their bladder is emptying well.

In rare cases, you may need a catheter for a week or so. You’ll still be able to go home, but you’ll need to come back in a week or two to have the catheter removed.

You won’t be able to drive until your doctor agrees, so you’ll need someone to take you home from hospital.

What complications can be caused by pelvic organ prolapse surgery?

Most women make a healthy recovery from pelvic organ prolapse surgery. Complications are rare but can happen.

Speak to your doctor as soon as possible if you have severe pain or bleeding, unusual discharge, a high temperature, or stinging or burning sensations when you pass urine.

Recovery from pelvic organ prolapse surgery

How long does it take to recover from pelvic organ prolapse surgery?

It depends on the type of surgery you have. If you have open surgery, it can take 4 - 6 weeks to heal. If you have keyhole surgery, it may only take 1 - 2 weeks to recover.

(Video) 7 Tips to Help Recovery from Pelvic Prolapse Surgery

Remember, recovery times are unique to every woman, so try not to compare your recovery to anyone else’s.

How can I aid my recovery from pelvic organ prolapse surgery?

Listen to your body throughout the healing process. These tips may help you in the early weeks:

  • If you feel any discomfort, you can keep taking over-the-counter pain relief
  • Rest when you need to - on busy days sit or lie down every few hours
  • You can shower but wait a week before you have a bath and gently pat the incision dry
  • Use sanitary pads if needed - any bleeding should stop within four weeks
  • Wear loose clothing that doesn’t put pressure on your belly for a few weeks
  • Don’t be alarmed if you find knots from the stitches in your underwear - your stitches usually dissolve within a few weeks but can take up to three months
  • Your doctor may advise you to use vaginal oestrogen cream or tablets for a few weeks after surgery
  • Some women experience uncomfortable bloating - light exercises (see below) and gently massaging your belly in a clockwise motion can help.

Diet

Constipation is not uncommon after surgery, so make sure you drink plenty of water (between 1.5L - 2 litres of fluids a day) and eat lots of fruit and vegetables.

Try to avoid getting constipated and straining when you empty your bowels as this can put pressure on your pelvic area. If you haven’t had a bowel movement for a few days tell your doctor, who will be able to give you laxatives.

Exercising

Doing gentle exercise can reduce any discomfort and swelling, as well as rebuild your strength:

  • Try short walks every day, slowly increasing the distance to improve your stamina
  • For guidance on exercise in the first few weeks, take a look at this information
  • After six weeks, you can return to low-impact exercise. Using a cross trainer, cycling, swimming, gentle Pilates and yoga are all good options. Speak to one of our specialist pelvic health physiotherapists if you’d like individual support or advice
  • Some women may need to avoid high-impact exercises in the long-term - your doctor or physiotherapist can advise you on this.

Mental health

Remember to take care of your emotional wellbeing. Recovering from surgery and readjusting to everyday life can take a toll on your mood. Be kind to yourself and seek support from family and friends, your GP or our mental health support services if you need to.

(Video) Channel Introduction - My Pelvic Organ Prolapse Repair & Vaginal Hysterectomy Recovery Story

What should I avoid after pelvic prolapse surgery?

There’s a few things you should steer clear of while you’re still healing:

  • Limit tea, coffee and alcohol as these can make you urinate more often
  • Steer clear of strenuous tasks, standing still for long periods and lifting anything heavier than half a kettle of water - some surgeons may advise avoiding heavy lifting in the long-term, too
  • Avoid smoking, as a ‘smoker’s cough’ can strain your pelvic floor muscles
  • Restrict weight gain as this can put pressure on your pelvic region
  • Hold off from sex until you’ve healed completely (usually 4 - 6 weeks). Even when you’re ready, sex may cause a little discomfort. A specialist pelvic health physiotherapist can recommend vaginal lubricants and positions for reducing pain.

When can I go back to work after pelvic organ prolapse surgery?

It depends on what kind of surgery you’ve had, how you feel, and what type of job you do.

If you work in an office, you can go back after about three weeks. If your job is more strenuous, it could take up to 12 weeks. Your doctor will advise you and provide a ‘Fit for work’ certificate.

When do I need to go for a check-up?

You’ll need to see your surgeon for a follow-up appointment six weeks after pelvic organ prolapse surgery to make sure you’re recovering well.

If you have any questions or concerns, or you need support before then, contact the hospital to speak to a nurse. They’ll arrange an appointment with your consultant or GP if needed.

Pelvic prolapse exercises

Here are two exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles after surgery:
To prepare, imagine you’re trying to stop yourself passing wind and tighten these muscles.
At the same time, imagine you’re trying to stop yourself passing urine and tighten these muscles. Keep your bum and tummy muscles relaxed and don’t hold your breath.

Exercise one:
Hold the squeeze for a few seconds then relax for a few seconds.Gradually increase until you can hold for up to 10 seconds and repeat 10 times.

(Video) How to Avoid Repeat Prolapse After Prolapse Repair Surgery

Exercise two:Tighten the pelvic floor muscles quickly and firmly, then relax. Do this up to 10 times.

Try to do these exercises at least once a day.

In summary

Most women recover well and feel significantly better after surgery, allowing them to get back to their day-to-day routine. Every woman’s experience of pelvic organ prolapse surgery is different. Listen to your body, take your time, and don’t put yourself under pressure during the healing process.

If you’d like individual advice, we have a network of over 40 physiotherapists specialising in pelvic health who can support you during your recovery. Please speak to your local hospital to find out more or call our physiotherapy team on 0345 045 4845 to find a specialist in your area.

Last updated Wednesday 7 April 2021

First published on Monday 2 March 2020

(Video) Week 6 Recovery from Pelvic Floor Operation | Full Pelvic Floor Repair Review | Stress Incontinence

FAQs

How long does it take to feel better after prolapse surgery? ›

You can expect to feel better and stronger each day. But you may get tired quickly and need pain medicine for a week or two. You may need about 4 to 6 weeks to fully recover from open surgery and 1 to 2 weeks to recover from laparoscopic surgery or vaginal surgery.

How do you bend over after prolapse surgery? ›

Bending at the waist will increase your intra-abdominal pressures. It is important that you try to avoid bending directly over to pick something up off the floor. If you need to reach something on the floor, either sit down and scoop it up or slowly bend down on your knees to pick it up, keeping your back straight.

How much should I walk after prolapse surgery? ›

It's most beneficial to do short regular walks though the day alternating walking with sitting out of bed and resting in bed. For example you may be able to walk continuously for 5 minutes at the end of your hospital stay. You'll usually continue walking for 5 minutes, 2-3 times a day when first arriving home.

Can you climb stairs after prolapse surgery? ›

A: You may go up and down stairs, but limit yourself to no more than 4 times per day for the first 2 weeks.

Can you live a normal life after prolapse surgery? ›

In summary. Most women recover well and feel significantly better after surgery, allowing them to get back to their day-to-day routine. Every woman's experience of pelvic organ prolapse surgery is different. Listen to your body, take your time, and don't put yourself under pressure during the healing process.

Can you bend after prolapse surgery? ›

You may need to limit forward bending during early healing (i.e. first 6 weeks) after prolapse surgery. This doesn't mean that you can't bend forwards. Most women can perform limited bending forward quite safely during their recovery at home after prolapse surgery to wash and dress.

How do you cough after prolapse surgery? ›

2. When you Can't Stop Coughing
  1. Sit rather than standing upright or lying down when coughing.
  2. Manually support the perineum using a hand placed firmly against the outside of the vagina to provide additional prolapse support when coughing.
23 Mar 2020

What are the side effects of prolapse surgery? ›

Risks
  • Bleeding.
  • Bowel obstruction.
  • Damage to nearby structures, such as nerves and organs.
  • Infection.
  • Fistula — an abnormal connection between two body parts, such as the rectum and vagina.
  • Recurrence of rectal prolapse.
  • Sexual dysfunction.
  • Development of new or worsened constipation.
22 Apr 2022

What can I lift after prolapse surgery? ›

Do not lift over 15 kilos for the rest of your life . Never use machines at gyms where you are in a scrunched position with your feet on a plate and pushing the heavy weights with your feet. Avoid rowing machines and any machines that increase your intra-abdominal pressure.

How long does it take for pelvic floor muscles to heal? ›

It may take weeks before you notice a substantial improvement, but things should change for the better within 4-5 weeks. If not seek help from a pelvic health physiotherapist or your GP.

Is prolapse surgery a good idea? ›

Consider surgery if the prolapse is causing pain, if you are having problems with your bladder and bowels, or if the prolapse is making it hard for you to do activities you enjoy. An organ can prolapse again after surgery. Surgery in one part of your pelvis can make a prolapse in another part worse.

Does walking worsen prolapse? ›

Prolapse symptoms may be worse at different times in the day. Some women notice that they feel more pressure after walking or standing for long periods of time.

How long after pelvic surgery can you drive? ›

You may resume driving when you are no longer taking narcotic medications and when you are able to push the brakes on your car without feeling significant abdominal discomfort. In order to prevent infection, no swimming or tub baths for 8 weeks. You may take showers instead.

How do you not sit with prolapse? ›

If sitting supported, put your buttocks up against the back of the chair and the place a small roll or cushion in the small of your back to maintain a comfortable inward curve. Sit with your weight evenly balanced between both sitz bones (no crossing of your legs).

Can you lead a normal life with a prolapse? ›

Many women with prolapse don't need treatment, as the problem doesn't seriously interfere with their normal activities. Lifestyle changes such as weight loss and pelvic floor exercises are usually recommended in mild cases.

How much weight can I lift after prolapse surgery? ›

Wait at least six weeks. Anything that increases the pressure in your abdominal cavity may also increase the pressure in your pelvis and cause your surgery to fail. For this reason, we recommend that you lift no more than 5 – 7 pounds for the first six weeks after surgery.

How long does prolapse repair last? ›

Vaginal prolapse repairs typically take about 2.5 hours and patients usually stay in the hospital for one night. Occasionally patients will stay for two nights for comfort reasons.

Does a prolapse make you tired? ›

Along with lower back and pelvic pain and pressure, POP can cause leg fatigue. This typically happens when the mass created by the prolapse compresses nearby nerves. If you have a prolapse and are also experiencing general fatigue, you may need to check in with your mental health.

How long do you need a catheter after prolapse surgery? ›

The duration of initial catheterization after vaginal prolapse surgery was generally 1–7 days, with a median duration of 3 days for anterior colporrhaphy (AC) and anterior & posterior colporrhaphy (APC), and 2 days for other procedures.

What vitamin is good for prolapse? ›

Vitamin C with bioflavonoids

We know that vitamin C and also bioflavonoids help with the formation of collagen so it is important that you take these nutrients in supplement form if you are suffering from either prolapse or stress incontinence, or both.

Does walking strengthen pelvic floor muscles? ›

Regular gentle exercise, such as walking can also help to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.

Should I do pelvic floor exercises after prolapse surgery? ›

Pelvic floor safe exercises are important after pelvic floor surgery to avoid pelvic floor overload and reduce the risk of repeat prolapse. Pelvic floor safe exercises after surgery include: Low impact fitness exercises starting out with a walking program.

How can I make my pelvic muscles stronger? ›

To strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, sit comfortably and squeeze the muscles 10 to 15 times. Do not hold your breath or tighten your stomach, bottom or thigh muscles at the same time. When you get used to doing pelvic floor exercises, you can try holding each squeeze for a few seconds.

How do you rest your pelvic? ›

After delivery, we recommend “pelvic rest,” which means avoiding tampons, baths and swimming, and, of course, refraining from penetrative vaginal sexual activity.

How do I know if my pelvic floor muscles are strong? ›

If your pelvic floor muscles are strong, "you should feel the area under your fingers lift and pull upward," Wright says. Also, "there should be no additional pressure toward your fingers if you are contracting correctly," she adds.

What is the best surgery for pelvic prolapse? ›

Sacrocolpopexy—Used to treat vaginal vault prolapse and enterocele. It can be done with an abdominal incision or with laparoscopy. Surgical mesh is attached to the front and back walls of the vagina and then to the sacrum (tail bone). This lifts the vagina back into place.

How common is surgery for prolapse? ›

According to the American Urogynecologic Society, there are 3.3 million women in the United States with pelvic organ prolapse, and 300,000 pelvic prolapse surgeries are performed in the country each year.

What percentage of prolapse surgeries fail? ›

A Duke-led study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association followed women for five years after two common prolapse surgeries and found failure rates for both procedures were equally high, at over 60 percent.

Does sitting make prolapse worse? ›

The longer you sit during the day, the more pressure you exert on the “hammock,” causing damage to your pelvic floor. This can lead to: Pelvic floor dysfunction. Pelvic organ prolapse.

What exercises make a prolapse worse? ›

Don't do any heavy lifting, deep squats, leg presses, abdominal crunches, and planks. These exercises create intra-abdominal pressure and cause the pelvic floor to bulge. Also, high-impact exercises such as running and jumping can worsen pelvic prolapse, so swap out these activities with low- or no-impact exercise.

Does standing make prolapse worse? ›

Prolapse symptoms are often worse at the end of a day, with prolonged standing or at times of increased intra-abdominal pressure e.g. heavy lifting, coughing or straining to go to the toilet.

How long after pelvic surgery can you walk? ›

After pelvic fracture surgery, patients are not allowed to bear weight or walk for six to 10 weeks. You will be taught by physical therapy to use crutches or a walker before leaving the hospital. Your doctor may decide to put you on a blood thinner after surgery for 2-6 weeks depending on your risk factors.

What should you not do after surgery? ›

  • Do Too Much, Too Soon. ...
  • Stay in Bed. ...
  • Don't Take Your Meds as Prescribed. ...
  • Don't Get Enough Food or Drink. ...
  • Skip Rehab. ...
  • Go Back to Work Too Soon. ...
  • Drive Before You're Ready. ...
  • Quit Your Breathing Exercises.
27 Apr 2022

How long is physical therapy after pelvic surgery? ›

The surgeon will recommend physical therapy, sometimes as much as 6 months of treatment - which is when the real work of recovery takes place.

How do you sit without pressure on pelvic floor? ›

Sit on a padded surface. A hard surface may lead to some extra pressure and discomfort on the bony structures at the base of your pelvis. Sit with your buttocks right at the back of the seat, allowing the back rest to support your spine. Our lower spine should maintain a small inward curve.

Does standing affect pelvic floor? ›

The way you sit and stand can also have a huge impact on your pelvic floor, and related conditions, such as incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse.

Can sitting too much cause pelvic floor problems? ›

As you can see, posture is not as simple as “standing tall” or “sitting up straight.” Positioning your body in poor posture, especially for prolonged periods of time can lead to a breadth of pelvic floor dysfunctions. This may include pain with sitting, coccydynia, low back pain, urinary frequency, incontinence, etc.

How long does pain last after prolapse surgery? ›

Pain after Prolapse Surgery

Most people experience this pain for about two weeks, but it may last up to six weeks. If you have an abdominal incision, you may have pain around the incision as it heals. Some people take prescription and/or over-the-counter pain medication to help manage their pain.

How long does it take to get over prolapse surgery? ›

Surgical repair

Surgical repairs are usually done by making cuts in the wall of the vagina under general anaesthetic. This means you'll be asleep during the operation and will not feel any pain. You may need 6 to 12 weeks off work to recover, depending on the type of surgery you have.

What are the side effects after prolapse prolapse surgery? ›

But in general, rectal prolapse surgery risks include:
  • Bleeding.
  • Bowel obstruction.
  • Damage to nearby structures, such as nerves and organs.
  • Infection.
  • Fistula — an abnormal connection between two body parts, such as the rectum and vagina.
  • Recurrence of rectal prolapse.
  • Sexual dysfunction.
22 Apr 2022

How long is recovery from bladder prolapse surgery? ›

Most often, the prolapsed organ is returned to its original position and anchored with a synthetic material. As with vaginal surgery, recovery time is short, typically about two weeks, and your doctor may recommend limiting activities, such as lifting, exercise, and sexual activity, for about six weeks.

Is prolapse surgery a good idea? ›

Consider surgery if the prolapse is causing pain, if you are having problems with your bladder and bowels, or if the prolapse is making it hard for you to do activities you enjoy. An organ can prolapse again after surgery. Surgery in one part of your pelvis can make a prolapse in another part worse.

How long does it take for pelvic floor muscles to heal? ›

It may take weeks before you notice a substantial improvement, but things should change for the better within 4-5 weeks. If not seek help from a pelvic health physiotherapist or your GP.

How painful is a pelvic floor repair? ›

You may also experience some pain/discomfort in the groin area, vagina and lower abdomen following surgery. This usually settles after a week or two and simple analgesics like paracetamol may help. The risk of developing deep vein thrombosis is increased following surgery.

When can I drive after prolapse surgery? ›

You should not drive until you can easily turn in your seat without discomfort and can safely perform an emergency stop, this is usually about 2 -4 weeks after surgery. You can return to work 4-6 weeks after the operation depending on your job.

What can I lift after prolapse surgery? ›

Do not lift over 15 kilos for the rest of your life . Never use machines at gyms where you are in a scrunched position with your feet on a plate and pushing the heavy weights with your feet. Avoid rowing machines and any machines that increase your intra-abdominal pressure.

How does prolapse affect your life? ›

A prolapse is not life threatening, but it can cause pain and discomfort. Symptoms can usually be improved with pelvic floor exercises and lifestyle changes, but sometimes medical treatment is needed.

How much weight can you lift after prolapse surgery? ›

Wait at least six weeks. Anything that increases the pressure in your abdominal cavity may also increase the pressure in your pelvis and cause your surgery to fail. For this reason, we recommend that you lift no more than 5 – 7 pounds for the first six weeks after surgery.

How long does vaginal prolapse repair last? ›

Vaginal prolapse repairs typically take about 2.5 hours and patients usually stay in the hospital for one night. Occasionally patients will stay for two nights for comfort reasons.

Does a prolapse make you tired? ›

Along with lower back and pelvic pain and pressure, POP can cause leg fatigue. This typically happens when the mass created by the prolapse compresses nearby nerves. If you have a prolapse and are also experiencing general fatigue, you may need to check in with your mental health.

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