Medically Reviewed by Gary H. Emerson, MD
When a woman’s pelvic region loses muscle tightness and the uterus slips, this is a condition called prolapse. Pain during sexual intercourse, loss sensation in the vagina/cervix or difficulty achieving orgasm are common symptoms for women with prolapse. So, it’s natural that women want to know, “Will I be able to have a normal sex life after treatment?”
The short answer is “yes.” A somewhat longer answer follows:
One of the most important aspects of a woman’s health is her sexual well being. Pelvic prolapse (as well as stress or urge incontinence) can harm a woman’s self-image (psychological component) as well as her sexual function (physical arousal and orgasm) and social dimensions.
About one-third of sexually active women with pelvic organ prolapse say it interferes with their sex life.
The two most common treatments for prolapse are a pessary (a device inserted in the vagina to hold the organs in place) and surgical repair.
“Women who use a pessary can have sex,” says McLeod Gynecologist Gary Emerson, M.D. “They should remove the pessary before intercourse. However, using a pessary is less effective at improving sexual function than repairing the prolapse with surgery.”
In addition to rebuilding support for the uterus and vagina, another goal of surgery is to reshape the vaginal canal for sexual relations with a minimum of pain.
Studies of women undergoing prolapse surgery find many of them experience improved sexual function with reduced pain during intercourse. Only a small percentage of women reported less function after surgery than before their prolapse.
However, it’s important to note that there are many issues affecting a woman and her sexual response, including the stress of restarting sexual relations after the surgery, the woman’s age, status of her relationship, and signs of menopause. Decreased estrogen during menopause can cause vaginal dryness and pain during intercourse.
A discussion and possible solutions are contained in this online publication from the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
Each woman is unique in experience, desire, relationships, and related medical issues (diabetes, hypertension, etc.). Consultation with your gynecologist will help clarify any issues and help discover the best possible treatments.
Find a Gynecologist near you.
Sources include: McLeod Health, National Institutes of Health, European Urological Review, SheKnows LLC, American Family Physician, American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, International Urogynecological Association