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Often, talking about female sexual health can feel awkward or embarrassing, even when letting your gynecologist about symptoms or changes that concern you. Problems such as discomfort or lack of lubrication during intimacy, urinary incontinence or other functional issues can be regular occurrences among women of any age, so it’s important that you understand that you are not alone. At Urogynecology Center NoVa, Dr. Maria Canter understands that some women are reluctant to talk about issues with intimacy or function, perhaps because you think that they are just a symptom of age and something you have to live with. But the truth is that vaginal health changes are common, and problems can manifest themselves through a variety of symptoms. At Urogynecology Center NoVa, we want to ensure that you are living your best life at every age, which is why Dr. Canter offers vaginoplasty, a surgical procedure designed to improve intimacy and function, and restore your confidence in yourself and your sexuality.

The Vaginal Structure

One problem that plagues many women of childbearing age and beyond is loose or weakened muscles in the vagina. In most women, the vagina is approximately four inches long, and is located in your pelvic area behind the bladder. It is the thruway connecting your uterus to the outside of your genitals, and is the birth canal during vaginal childbirth.

The walls of your vagina consist of a strong outer layer of muscle and a weaker inner layer. The external vaginal muscles are elastic and thick, however, just as with other muscle structures, the elasticity of these muscles weakens over time. Both the natural aging process and/or one or more vaginal births cause the vaginal walls to stretch, making them less able to bounce back as strong as they once were. Also, the muscles of the vagina are covered by tissues that connect the vagina to your rectum and bladder, as well as other vital structures in your pelvis. So, when the vaginal walls begin to weaken, it causes other systems housed in your pelvis to weaken, resulting in dryness, discomfort, urinary incontinence and other functional problems.

What is Vaginoplasty?

Over time, the collagen and elastin in your skin – all of it – begins to lose elasticity and sag. These vital proteins are responsible for keeping your skin firm and supple, and not only do they weaken with age, but production of new collagen and elastin fibers starts to diminish. While maybe not as noticeable as sagging or weakening of the skin on your face, the tissues in your vagina are also affected by age and skin changes.

Surgical vaginoplasty is designed to enhance both sexual sensation and pelvic functionality by tightening and repairing the muscles of the vaginal wall. Lack of muscle tone and skin laxity in the vagina can cause you to suffer from:

  • Decreased sensation in the vagina
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Burning or itching
  • Mild to moderate urinary incontinence

Vaginoplasty can decrease or even eliminate these symptoms altogether, restoring your vaginal health and boosting your confidence during intimacy. Often times, a perineoplasty is done at the same time as a vaginoplasty to strengthen the muscles of the perineum.

What to Expect from Your Vaginoplasty

Prior to undergoing vaginoplasty, you will come in for a consultation with Dr. Canter, who will talk with you about your concerns and desired results, as well as examine you to determine what needs to be done to achieve those results. On the day of your surgery, you will be given general anesthesia and made comfortable. Dr. Canter begins the procedure removing a pie-shaped section of excess mucosal skin at the back of the vagina. She then repairs the muscles found underneath the excess skin, using strong sutures to either bring separated muscles back together, or to tighten loose muscles. Once she has completed the muscle repair, she closes the mucosal skin with sutures. If there is external skin that protrudes from your vagina, this can also be addressed, leaving you with a more aesthetically pleasing appearance.

Recovery and Results of Vaginoplasty

Vaginoplasty is done as an outpatient surgery, so you are able to return home after your procedure. Depending on your specific surgery, it may take one to two weeks of recovery time before you feel ready to return to your everyday activities. There may be some initial pain or aching, but these are temporary and usually only last for the first couple of days. You will need to refrain from tampon use and sexual intercourse for a minimum of eight weeks after surgery, to allow your body to heal fully.

Just like with any surgery, there is always the risk of bleeding or infection or bleeding, but if you follow Dr. Canter’s post-operative care instructions carefully, your chances of experiencing complications are low. Dr. Canter wants your vaginoplasty experience to be as comfortable as possible from start to finish, and she encourages you to contact her if you notice uncomfortable sensations or discomfort after surgery, or if you have questions or concerns. Her goal is to ensure that your surgery is safe and successful, and restores function and feeling to your vagina.

Vaginoplasty results are considered long-lasting, though you may experience some skin laxity or weakening of the vaginal muscles as you age naturally. This is simply a part of the aging process, and most changes are so insignificant that you won’t even notice them. You will enjoy a tighter vagina and the resolution of other symptoms of vaginal laxity you may have had.

If the loss of function or sexual health is having an adverse effect on your quality of life, surgical vaginoplasty may be the answer you’re looking for.

Call Urogynecology Center NoVa today to schedule a consultation.703-293-5239