A hysterectomy is a procedure wherein a woman’s uterus is surgically removed from her body. In some cases, it may also require the removal of the cervix, ovaries and fallopian tubes. And, regardless of your procedure, vaginal discharge after hysterectomy is common.
But is that something to worry about? Does discharge after hysterectomy procedures mean something more serious is happening, physiologically? And, what are the odds of it resulting in a vaginal prolapse?
This is a necessary, often life-saving procedure, and it’s important to know your risks. Join us today as we break down this issue, so you can make better choices when it comes to your own overall pelvic health.
Vaginal Discharge After a Hysterectomy
Before we start, we should clear up one important fact. It is completely normal to experience vaginal discharge after most surgeries on and around your vagina. It’s a delicate ecosystem, and discharge is your body’s way of discharging impurities which could cause an infection. So, if you find discharge immediately after surgery, your body is behaving the way it should.
Vaginal discharge and bleeding similar to a period are normal for between three and four weeks following your surgery. While healing, make sure to keep the area clean and use sanitary towels instead of tampons.
Now, with all that said, discharge can be a sign of an impending prolapse if you experience a lot of it, and it appears different or unhealthy.
When Discharge Is A Sign Of Something Serious
When the bacteria in your vagina react to an infection, the first thing to change in your otherwise-standard discharge will be its smell. And it will not be subtle. Patients trick themselves into thinking their discharge has become worse. But an infection smells noticeably bad.
The discharge may begin looking different from what you’ve grown used to. If your discharge changes, suddenly, from white or clear to a more sickly green or brown, it’s a possible sign of an infection. And infections can lead to prolapses.
Finally, consider the way your discharge feels, both on your vagina and to the touch. Changing from sticky to oily or slick discharge can be an indication of a problem. Also, as we’ve mentioned, if you find significantly more discharge or blood over time, this is a warning sign.
It’s important to keep one thing in mind: when you think something’s wrong, consult with your doctor immediately. What might seem like a small issue could be an early warning that could save you time, money, and your health, down the line. And what seems different and concerning could honestly turn out to be nothing.
Other Warning Signs
As we’ve mentioned, vaginal discharge is a normal part of a hysterectomy but can be serious if experienced in increasing amounts. If you do experience this, however, it is important to note that there are other symptoms to look out for. Look for the following symptoms as a further indication of a prolapse:
- Sensations of pelvic “heaviness”
- Difficulties and pain associated with sexual intercourse
- Incontinence, urinary leakage, constipation, and bladder infections
- Significant lower back pain after hysterectomy
- Protrusions from the vagina itself
- Weakened or inflamed vaginal tissue
- Throbbing vagina
- Sensations of something falling out of the vagina
On the other hand, there are many cases where prolapse occurs without any symptoms at all. This is why it’s important to visit your doctor when you think something is wrong because, without too much scaremongering, it very well could be.
The Different Types Of Prolapsed Vagina
Otherwise known as pelvic organ prolapses, vaginal prolapse can actually take on a few different shapes. These are mostly delineated based on where they occur and what surrounding organs they affect.
Occurring in the front of front, or “anterior” wall of the vagina, this can result from having the uterus removed. An anterior prolapse can manifest in one of two ways:
- Bladder or “cystocele”, a mild or moderate prolapse where the bladder falls into the vagina
- Urethra, where the urethral tube prolapses
In cases where the prolapse is particularly severe, you may also see it bulging out of your vagina. It is imperative to get in touch with your primary care physician to find out more about treatment options.
Posterior wall prolapses occur when the tissue between the vagina and rectum stretches or separates. It can result in:
- Rectocele prolapses, wherein the rectum drops down and presses against the rear wall of the vagina
- Rectal prolapses, wherein the rectum turns partially inside out and slips out of the anus
Apical prolapses occur near the top of the vagina. One form of this kind of prolapse is what’s known as a vaginal vault.
When the uterus is removed, it has a direct impact on the support structures for the vagina itself. The uterus actually supports the vagina and holds it up. Once the uterus is gone, the vagina has nothing to hold onto, internally.
In severe cases, this can even lead to the vagina inverting completely. When this happens, the vagina turns inside out and hangs out through the vagina opening. This is where a professional cuff check after hysterectomy is typically recommended. Without it, there’s very little way to gauge your odds of a potential prolapse.
Vaginal Prolapse: Know Your Risks
Vaginal prolapse can be an embarrassing and painful process to go through for women who’ve had a hysterectomy. There are various ways in which something like this can occur and, when it comes to treatment, it’s always best to consult with your physician.
A medical professional may advise against sitting after rectocele surgery. They’ll tell you that some women experience bleeding years after full hysterectomy work. Or they might tell you that discharge is completely normal in certain amounts, as mentioned earlier in this article.
Looking for more insights into prolapse management and prevention? Want more on various other pelvic medicine topics? If you think that you need a medical consultation, get in touch with us today for an appointment.