Asking your doctor these prolapse surgery questions helps you know your individual risks, the likelihood of a repeat prolapse and the type of exercises and activities you can feel confident about after surgery.
Being fully informed before your prolapse surgery is vital for knowing whether or not to proceed with surgery, what to expect and how to manage your prolapse repair long-term.
Some women mistakenly believe they’ll be able to return to all their previous exercises and activities after surgery. Others are surprised when their prolapse returns after and say that they weren’t fully aware of their risk of repeat prolapse.
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20 Prolapse Surgery Questions to ask Your Doctor
These 20 prolapse surgery questions are a general guide to help you prepare for seeing your Gynaecologist or Urogynaecologist. This list is by no means exhaustive and some of the questions may or may not apply to you. These questions may prompt you to think of other prolapse surgery questions you’d like to ask your doctor regarding other concerns you may have.
1. What type of prolapse surgery procedure are you proposing?
The type of prolapse you have (e.g. bladder prolapse, uterine prolapse) along with prolapse severity determine the type of prolapse surgery that your doctor will perform. Sometimes there are different surgical options for the same type of prolapse.
Ask your doctor to explain how he/she intends to perform the surgery (e.g. will there be an abdominal cut or is the surgery all performed through the vagina).
2. Why do you recommend this type of surgical procedure?
Your doctor should tell you why they think that the recommended procedure is best suited to your prolapse. Some prolapse surgery procedures are known to be more effective than others in terms of long-term outcomes.
3. What are the general risks for women undergoing this surgery?
Some types of prolapse surgery have greater risks of postoperative complications than others. The possible risks need to be weighed up against the potential benefits such as better long-term outcomes.
4. What are my individual risks with this operation (short & long-term)?
Many women have individual risk factors associated with prolapse surgery. Short term risk factors may be general health problems that increase the postoperative risks such as pre-existing chest problems. Long-term risk factors for prolapse may impact upon the overall success of your surgery such as having a history of chronic constipation and straining or being overweight.
5. How often do you perform this operation?
You are likely to feel more confident in a doctor that has extensive experience performing the proposed prolapse surgery.
6. What is your individual success rate? How many repeat operations do you perform?
A doctor’s individual success rate can be different to the general success rate of a procedure for example your doctor might report having a higher success rate than the rate generally reported by all doctors for a particular type of prolapse repair. Knowing how frequently this type of prolapse surgery requires repeat surgery can help you make an informed decision about whether or not you choose to proceed with surgery.
7. What are my alternatives to prolapse surgery for managing my prolapse?
If your prolapse if mild or moderate, there may be viable alternatives to prolapse surgery including Kegels (pelvic floor exercises) and support pessary management. Sometimes women find that they can avoid surgery with these alternative management strategies. For other women with more severe prolapse, surgery may be the only possible solution.
8. How long will I need to stay in hospital?
Various factors will determine the length of your hospital stay including the type of prolapse surgery procedure and your individual risk of postoperative complications.
9. How long will it take for me to fully recover?
Knowing the length of time required for you to recover can help you plan accordingly knowing that you require a certain length of time to fully recover.
10. How long will I need to take off work?
Knowing the time you’ll need to take off work in advance can help you plan when to have your surgery and your return to work activities for example you may choose to have your surgery close to annual holidays to allow yourself additional recovery time.
11. How can I prepare for my prolapse surgery?
There are often numerous ways women can prepare for prolapse surgery.
A healthy diet is important for bladder and bowel health along with weight management and reducing the risk of diabetes. It’s also important to consider your postoperative prolapse diet to maximise your recovery from surgery. If you’re overweight, losing weight before your surgery will reduce your overall risk of repeat prolapse after your surgery. Weight management is an important part of long-term management after prolapse repair.
It makes sense to go into surgery in your best possible physical shape. Doing regular general pelvic floor safe exercises to improve your strength and fitness will help your ability to move with ease within the bed, in and out of bed after surgery and your rate of overall return to fitness.
Pelvic floor rehabilitation
Pelvic floor exercises prior to surgery may improve outcomes after prolapse surgery by improving the overall pelvic floor support and for bladder control. Core abdominal exercises are important for pelvic floor support.
Bowel management prior to surgery is a priority for women with bowel problems to address particularly those with chronic constipation, straining or diarrhoea. If you’re prone to IBS seeing a dietician and learning about the FODMAP diet may help you reduce postoperative bloating, constipation and or diarrhoea.
12. Can I expect to return to the same activities that I currently do?
Every woman is different in her ability to do particular activities after prolapse surgery as women all have different risk factors. For example, an elderly woman having a prolapse repair will usually have less physical strength than a younger stronger woman undergoing the same procedure therefore her expectations about postoperative activities will be different. The type of surgery you have may limit your ability to do certain activities such as heavy lifting and your pre-existing physical strength and fitness will also have a bearing on this.
13. When can I return to my regular activities after my prolapse surgery?
Your doctor will have a particular protocol that he/she likes patients to follow regarding when to return to regular activity.
14. Will I notice any difference during sexual intercourse after my surgery?
Prolapse and sex can sometimes be a difficult topic to discuss. Your doctor will tell you when you can expect to become sexually active after surgery and whether the surgical procedure has the potential to change your sensation with intercourse.
15. When can I return to general exercise after surgery?
Your doctor will most likely have a particular protocol that he/she likes patients to follow regarding when to return to general exercise. This usually depends upon recovery and healing when examined at the postsurgical review.
16. Can I return to the same type of exercise that I regularly perform?
If you’re someone who exercises regularly, it’s important to ask about the type of exercise you can safely return to after your procedure. Long-term postoperative exercise depends on a number of factors including upon the type of prolapse surgery performed and the strength of your pelvic floor tissues.
17. Are there any long-term restrictions on my general activity or exercise after this surgery?
Knowing long-term restrictions on your general activity or exercise after prolapse surgery will give you realistic expectations about what you can safely manage after surgery and may help you make a well informed decision about whether or not to proceed with surgery.
18. When should I commence pelvic floor exercises (Kegels) after prolapse surgery?
Your doctor will have a protocol regarding when it’s safe to return to pelvic floor training after surgery It’s important to know the correct technique for pelvic floor exercise before commencing pelvic floor exercises since some women use the wrong technique and inadvertently bear down through their pelvic floor which can potentially strain the pelvic floor and surgical repair.
19. What can I do after surgery to reduce my risk of repeat prolapse?
There are a number of manageable factors that can affect your risk of repeat prolapse.
Manageable risk factors for repeat prolapse include being overweight, smoking, heavy lifting and specific bowel problems. After taking your history your doctor will understand your potential risk factors and should be able to advise you on steps you can take to reduce your overall risk of repeat prolapse after surgery.
20. Do you work with a team of health professionals that you can recommend?
Some doctors work with a team of health professionals.
Preparing well for surgery often involves seeking guidance from another health professional prior to surgery so that you’re improving your overall chances of a successful outcome and minimising your risks. Pelvic floor physiotherapy prior to surgery can help you prepare for surgery in many ways for example teaching you correct pelvic floor exercise technique and how to correctly empty your bowels after your operation.
Useful Tips When Preparing for Your Preoperative Appointment
It can be easy to forget the prolapse surgery questions you’d like to ask and remember what your doctor tells you during your appointment. You may feel nervous and sometimes it can feel intimidating meeting a new doctor, especially a Gynaecologist.
To prepare for your appointment:
- Write down your questions and take them with you
- Ask a trusted friend or family member to accompany you
- Take a list of your medications, general health problems and dates of previous surgical procedures
Key Points for Prolapse Surgery Questions
Your preoperative appointment is an opportunity for you to gather as much information as possible about your surgical options for managing your prolapse. Taking the time to prepare can help you know your individual risks, the likelihood of a successful outcome and what to realistically expect in terms of long-term activity and general exercise.
Once you’ve gathered sufficient information, you can make a well informed decision about whether or not to proceed with prolapse surgery and how to improve your chances of a successful outcome.