Vaginal Cuff: What It Is and Why You May Need It
A vaginal cuff is no accessory. It’s not something that will make your vagina look extra special.
To get an idea of what a vaginal cuff is, you must first understand the normal anatomy of your vagina and the organs surrounding it.
Normally, your vaginal canal ends in your cervix. It’s a ring of tissue that serves as a barrier and passageway between the vagina and uterus.
If the uterus needs to be removed by hysterectomy, the vaginal canal will be left as an open tube. As a way to close the vaginal canal, both sides of the vaginal wall will be sewn together at their ends. This creates a vaginal cuff.
To make sure that the vagina doesn’t prolapse, the vaginal cuff will be anchored to the ligaments in your pelvis and abdomen. Once everything is healed and the stitches finally dissolve, your vaginal canal will look a bit like the toe of your sock.
Although the vaginal canal is often called as hysterectomy cuff, it’s not always required for the procedure. There are types of hysterectomy that don’t involve the creation of a vaginal cuff. In general, only the total hysterectomy requires it.
Changes That May Happen With Having Vaginal Cuff
The idea of having your uterus and cervix removed can be scary but it’s something you can totally adjust to. There are ways to address the changes that happen with vaginal cuffs.
Feeling of Having a Shorter Vagina
Technically and in most cases, the vagina won’t really be shorter after a vaginal cuff is created. Most studies estimate that there’ll be just a quarter-inch of loss in terms of length.
However, because of the surgery, the tissues of the organ may not be as flexible as before. They may not stretch as easily, particularly after the first few thrusts for penetration. This is what creates the impression of having a shorter vagina.
If this is something that bothers you constantly, you can try re-stretching your vagina with vaginal dilators. This will help your organ make penetration easier.
Even if the ovaries are left after hysterectomy, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll experience the same level of lubrication prior to your surgery. This is because the procedure often leaves women with lower hormone levels.
Low levels of estrogen can result in less vaginal lubrication, causing pain during sexual intercourse.
As a solution to this, you can take oral hormone replacement therapy. You can ask your doctor about it. Another solution is to use lube.
Changes In Your Orgasms
It’s quite possible for you to experience a change in your orgasms after surgery. There are women who felt stronger orgasms after the procedure. Those who experienced weaker orgasms eventually gain their normal orgasm intensity after a while.
Take note that while it’s possible for you to experience a change in this aspect of your sexual life, it’s not always bound to happen. The changes may or may not happen.
If they do, communicating with your partner can help. Being open as much as possible can help you meet your sexual needs.
After surgery, you may not feel as much sexual desire. This is actually normal, particularly for women who have just gone through a major operation that involve their sexual organs.
There are a couple of things that can make sexual intercourse a bit uncomfortable after. For one, during sexual activity, your partner may be hitting some tender scar tissues at the vaginal cuff’s end.
As mentioned, less vaginal lubrication and flexibility can also contribute to pain.
Most Common Complications
Like any other procedures, the creation of vaginal cuffs comes with possible complications.
For one, there’s the risk of experiencing damage to the nerves and surrounding areas. There’s also the possibility of developing an infection.
The main risk, however, is vaginal cuff dehiscence. This happens when the cuff’s closed end partially or completely opens. This can increase your risk of getting a serious infection, damaging the bladder and bowel, or having a total organ prolapse.
Although serious, vaginal cuff dehiscence is quite rare. The risk of having it is slightly higher for people who chose laparoscopic hysterectomy. Women who also engage in sexual intercourse before the cuff is fully healed can increase their risk of dehiscence, too. The same can happen with straining during bowel movements, obesity, weak immune system, and weak pelvic floor muscles.
Aa a guide, here are some of the most common signs of vaginal cuff dehiscence:
- changes in bowel habits
- feeling of pressure
- nausea and vomiting
- having watery or bloody vaginal discharge
- sudden pain in the abdomen or pelvic area
If you see any of those signs, be sure to see your doctor. The earlier the treatment is provided, the more the complications can be avoided.
A vaginal cuff repair is completed through surgery. If there are no complications, the procedure can be done through your vagina.
If severe complications, such as abscess, peritonitis, and hematoma, are present, you may need to undergo either an open abdominal or laparoscopic surgery.
As part of the treatment plan, you will also be intravenous fluid hydration and intravenous antibiotic therapy to avoid infections.
Living Life With a Vaginal Cuff
Having a vaginal cuff can feel intimidating, particularly if you consider the possible changes that will happen to you and your body. However, living with it isn’t entirely that difficult.
Acceptance of your condition is one step towards living normally with a vaginal cuff. The use of lubes, hormone therapy, and dilators can make it easier and more comfortable for you to engage in sexual activities.
As much as possible, communicate with your partner. Talk about what makes you feel comfortable as well as the things that cause you pain during sex.
If you constantly feel pain, whether or not doing any sexual activity, talk to your doctor. It’s a good idea to have your vaginal cuff checked and assess to prevent complications and further problems.