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Pelvic Organ Prolapse: Surgery for Rectocele and Enterocele

Cutaway view of rectum and vagina

Rectocele is when the rectum bulges into the vagina. Enterocele is when the small intestine bulges into the vagina. The goal of surgery is to repair the problem and relieve your symptoms.

Cutaway view of rectum and vagina

The Surgical Procedure

To correct a rectocele, a posterior repair is done through the vagina. The rectum is restored to its normal position. Sutures (stitches) are placed between the vagina and the rectum. An enterocele can also be corrected during the posterior repair. To do this, the small intestine is moved away from the vagina. Sutures are then used to tie off the excess tissue that had bulged into the vagina.

Cutaway view of rectum and vagina
Posterior repair

Your Incisions

During surgery, the doctor reaches your pelvic organs through the vagina or the abdomen. An incision may be made in the vaginal wall. If incisions are made on the abdomen (lower belly), they can be vertical (up and down) or transverse (across).

Possible Risks and Complications of Surgery

  • Infection

  • Bleeding

  • Risks of anesthesia

  • Damage to nerves, muscles, or nearby pelvic structures

  • Blood clots

  • Prolapse of the pelvic organ or organs occurring again

 

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Incision made in vaginal wall
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Abdominal incisions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recovering at Home

Your recovery at home will take some time.  You may need 6 to 8 weeks to recover fully.  The guidelines below will help you heal.  Be sure to follow any other instructions that your healthcare provider gives you.

Avoid Lifting or Straining

Lifting or straining can damage your healing pelvic floor muscles. 

  • For the first 6 weeks after surgery, do not lift anything over 5 pounds.  This includes children, grocery bags, and briefcases.  Also, avoid pushing and pulling heavy items, such as a vacuum cleaner.

  • After the first 6 weeks, you can start to lift heavier things.  But don't lift anything over 10 to 15 pounds until your doctor says it's OK.

  • While you heal, drink at least 8 glasses of fluids each day.  Eat food high in fiber.  This helps prevent constipation, which may lead to straining.  Ask your doctor whether you should take laxatives. 

Care for Your Incisions

Follow your doctor's instructions to care for your incisions.  Here are some guidelines:

  • Put nothing into your vagina for the first 6 to 8 weeks.  This includes tampons and douches.

  • You may have light vaginal bleeding or discharge for about a week.  Use sanitary pads.  Do not use tampons.

  • Take showers instead of baths.  Getting into and out of the tub can strain an incision.

  • If Steri-strips were used to close an incision, leave them in place for a week.  After that, you may wet and remove them.

  • Avoid having sex for as long as your doctor suggests (often 6 to 8 weeks).

Be Active

Follow any advice you doctor or other healthcare provider gives you to help you be active.  This may include the following:

  • Take walks often to help your body heal and regain strength after surgery.  Ask your doctor how often you should walk and for how long.

  • Do not lift weights, jog, or run until your doctor says that you can.

  • Ask you doctor whether you should avoid climbing stairs and, if so, for how long.

  • Don't drive until your doctor says it's OK and you are no longer taking prescription pain medications.

Your Return to Work

When you can return to work depends on the type of job you have.  Most people won't be able to go back to work for at least 3 to 6 weeks after surgery.  Your doctor can tell you when it's safe for you to return to work.  When you do start working again, be sure to avoid lifting and straining. 

When to call your Doctor (303)825-8822

Call your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Pain that is severe or seems to be getting worse

  • Fever over 100.4'F(37.7'C), or chills

  • Heavy vaginal bleeding

  • Lots of blood in your urine

  • Difficulty urinating

  • Swollen, very red, or tender incision

  • Vomiting that won't stop

  • Chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

  • Symptoms of a bladder infection (fever, pain, or burning feeling when urinating, needing to urinate but not being able to)

Back in Control

If you worry about urine leakage, surgery can help you get back in control.  Be sure to take care of yourself by exercising, eating right, and seeing your doctor regularly.  If you have any questions or concerns, call your doctor.  Once you have healed from surgery, you can start enjoying life again.

© 2000-2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.