Colporrhaphy is a surgery used to repair weaknesses in your vaginal walls that are causing unpleasant symptoms. Unlike many other reconstructive surgeries used to treat pelvic organ prolapse (POP), your provider can perform the procedure without having to make a large incision (cut) into your abdomen.
Colporrhaphy is a surgery used to fix weaknesses in your vaginal walls. It's a treatment for pelvic organ prolapse (POP). With POP, the organs inside your pelvis droop because the supporting muscles and tissues in your vaginal wall have become too weak to hold the organs in place. Colporrhaphy strengthens these muscles and tissues so that they can support pelvic organs like your bladder and rectum.
There are two types of colporrhaphy. Your provider may perform one or both in combination with other procedures to fix vaginal wall defects.
Yes. There are two major types of surgery to treat POP: obliterative (less invasive) and reconstructive surgery (more invasive). Colporrhaphy is a reconstructive surgery where your provider performs the procedure through your vagina. Colporrhaphy is less invasive than other types of reconstructive surgeries that involve opening your abdomen to access your pelvic organs, but it's still major surgery.
Colporrhaphy can relieve POP symptoms that interfere with your well-being. POP symptoms like urinary or fecal incontinence (difficulty controlling when you pee or poop) and painful intercourse can reduce your quality of life. Colporrhaphy can fix the structural issues in your pelvis so that you don't have to live with the symptoms these issues cause.
You may be a candidate for colporrhaphy if:
Both procedures involve your provider putting sagging organs back into place. Then, they reinforce the weakened muscles and tissues that hold these organs in place with dissolvable sutures. The reinforcements keep your vaginal wall tight and your organs in position.
Your provider will review the risks and benefits of colporrhaphy with you so that you have all the information you need to decide if this surgery is right for you.
Before the procedure, your provider will:
If you've gone through menopause, your provider may prescribe topical or vaginal estrogen before surgery. Data suggests that estrogen may increase the thickness of your vaginal tissue so that it's easier to work with during surgery.
First, your healthcare provider will give you anesthesia to keep you comfortable. Next, you'll get positioned on a table with built-in padded footrests to support your legs. You'll lie on your back with your legs lifted, knees bent at about 90 degrees, and your calves supported in the footrests. This position, called the dorsal lithotomy position, allows your provider to easily access your vagina and the tissue between your vagina and anus (perineum).
Once you're in a comfortable position, your provider will:
Surgery may take as little as 30 minutes if the weakened muscles are confined to a small section. Colporrhaphy may take longer if larger areas of your vaginal wall need repairing.
Depending on the extent of your vaginal wall repairs, you may be able to go home the day of your surgery, or you may need to stay in the hospital overnight.
You may experience common side effects:
Your provider may recommend a check-up at four to six weeks after surgery. Follow your provider's instructions on when to schedule follow-up appointments.
Colporrhaphy can relieve your POP symptoms without traditional surgery that requires a large incision into your abdomen. With posterior colporrhaphy, the repositioned organs often stay in place after surgery and the symptoms don't return. The success rate for anterior colporrhaphy is more mixed. Your vagina's front wall is the most common site for an organ to slip out of place, even after surgery. Still, colporrhaphy often improves symptoms — even for people whose walls weaken a bit after surgery.
Unlike some treatments used to treat pelvic organ prolapse, like colpocleisis, you can have intercourse following colporrhaphy once you’ve healed from surgery.
Although complications with colporrhaphy are rare, any surgery poses risks. Be sure to discuss risk factors, like your general health and preexisting health conditions, with your provider before surgery.
Your surgeon may recommend mesh to make your repair more durable. There's a small risk of mesh exposure with these procedures. In 2019, the FDA banned a specific type of mesh — and this mesh is no longer used. The mesh available now has been further studied and shown to be safe for POP repairs.
Talk to your provider about potential complications if you've previously had a colporrhaphy that involved mesh.
Within three months, you should be fully healed from your colporrhaphy, depending on how extensive your repairs were. In the meantime, your provider may advise you to:
Within three to four weeks, you should be able to go for walks and drive again, and you may be able to return to work. Your timetable for getting back into your routine depends on how extensive your surgery was and how physically strenuous your work is. Share these details about how physically demanding your job is with your provider when you’re discussing your recovery plan.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
You don’t have to live with unpleasant symptoms related to pelvic organ prolapse (POP). With colporrhaphy, your provider can strengthen your vaginal walls by performing surgery through your vagina. It’s much simpler than reconstructive surgeries for POP that require a large incision into your abdomen. Discuss the pros and cons of colporrhaphy with your provider to determine if it’s the right treatment for you.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/22/2022.
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