Busted Lady Business

We interrupt your regularly scheduled program to talk about… my busted lady business!

Oh yes, you read that, right. This is a post about my vag.

I don’t know how common vaginal or uterine complications are after vaginal delivers but my guess is I’m not the only one who has been dealing with busted lady business after pushing a couple of human beings out of her lady bits. Unfortunately, most women aren’t talking much about this stuff because, well VAGINAS, but I think prolonged vaginal/uterine issues should be a part of the vaginal births dialogue. Maybe if women knew the potential consequences they would be better prepared to manage them.

My daughter was big (nine pounds) and I received a third degree tear when she was born. The resulting scar tissue made sex uncomfortable and sometimes painful. I went to five pelvic floor therapy appointments–and did some work at home–that were somewhat helpful but the discomfort continued.

My son was also big but I guess I was stretched out because I only received a one degree tear despite the fact that he emerged with his elbow up by his head. When we finally resumed sex after my son’s birth, the pain seemed to be gone. I was thrilled! I assumed that the second birth had stretched the scar tissue enough to alleviate the discomfort I was feeling.

Then we started using condoms and the pain came back. I assumed the latex was irritating my scar tissue (despite the mountains of lube I use every time we get busy) and that once we settled on a more permanent form of birth control (and could ditch the condoms) the pain would subside. Unfortunately that was not the case, and eventually I realized that I had developed a fissure (read: open wound) on my perineum, right where my scar tissue had been.

My OB-GYN suggested the fissure was yeast-related and it made sense since it got really bad when we were battling thrush. I took yet another round of Diflucan (my third at that point) and treated it topically, but it never really went away. Around this time I met with my pelvic floor therapist again and she told me I should stop using Al.ways In.finity pads–which I LOVE because I can’t use tampons (more on this later)–because they irritate some women’s skin and might be causing, or at the very least exacerbating, the issue.

I was really bummed to abandon my Al.ways In.finity pads even before I tried the alternative–pure cotton pads the size of pillows. The minute I pulled out one of those gigantic cotton pads I knew I needed another way to manage my periods–I couldn’t wear some pants with these pads, they were so bulky! Tampons hadn’t been very comfortable (the pressed against my perineum) ever since I had my birth (foreshadowing here) so I ordered a Lunette Cup (think Diva Cup, but another brand) with a coupon I had from BlogHer.

It came and I tried it out and was disheartened to find that it fell out pretty much immediately, no matter how many different ways I inserted it. In my obsession to make the menstrual cup work, I fell down the rabbit hole of reviews, discussion threads and posts offering advice. I ended up in an email exchange with a Lunette customer service representative (who was amazing and responded to my emails at all hours of the weekend, despite my assurance that she could wait until Monday to respond). At the end of our exchange she asked if I had a low cervix. I wasn’t sure what was considered “low” and she said if your cervix is only a finger’s length from your vaginal opening during menstruation (it lowers when you have your period), it’s considered low.

Well, that explained why my menstrual cup was falling out: My cervix was less than a knuckle’s length away from my vaginal opening! When I told her this she promptly suggested I contact my OB.

I did and just recently had my appointment, where I was not surprised to be diagnosed with pelvic organ prolapse. It seems I have a combination of two situations, my bladder is falling down onto the vaginal wall  (cystocele) and my cervix is somewhat prolapsed. Of course I had been consulting Dr. Google about how to treat a low cervix and the most common treatment of a prolapsed uterus is a hysterectomy. Obviously I wasn’t going to do that, and I was expecting my OB to tell me I was just shit out of luck, and that I just couldn’t wear a tampon or menstrual cup and that sex and some exercises would sometimes be uncomfortable because of the prolapse. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there is a relatively simple surgery available to “repair the structural integrity” of my vagina (my phrasing). Evidently they build a “hammock” (my doctor’s phrasing) to hold up the ceiling of the vagina and that should help with many of the issues I’m having.

I’m seeing an OB that specializes in this sort of thing on Wednesday. I hope we’re on the same page about surgery because I’d really like to be able to wear tampons or a menstrual cup now that I have to wear pure cotton pads and I believe some of the discomfort I feel when I have sex and do vigorous exercise is also related to my pelvic organ prolapse. I also wonder if my constant low-level hemorrhoids could also be related.

So that is the saga of my busted vag. Obviously it’s not severely damaged, but it is has been an ongoing issue that I would love to resolve so I can move on with my life. I spend one week a month having my period and am trying to have sex once a week, plus I work out 2-3 times a week, so I am dealing with some version of this busted vag business on a pretty regular basis.

On a related note, my OB stressed that I shouldn’t consider the surgery if I might have another child and I was surprised by the conviction (and relief) in my voice when I assured her we were done having children. I’m so ready to get the inside of my body back in shape so that I can leave the negative physical effects of having children behind me.

Have you dealt with any lingering physical issues after having babies? Have they gotten better over time?

7 Comments

  1. I’m sorry you’re going through this and hope you find relief soon. I just realized, reading this, how incredibly lucky I’ve been in this regard, with no real lasting injury (that I’m aware of) after two vaginal births (I did have a 3rd degree tear with my first, but that healed completely in a few months).

  2. I think I’m going to need to google some diagrams to better understand this! But I’m so glad there is a solution, because I know it has been bothering you awhile.

    Like Ana, I’m realizing I’m very lucky, since I’ve had no issues. In both cases I was able to have sex again within a few weeks (before I got the okay from the doctor, in fact) and had no pain after the first couple of times.

    Good luck!

  3. I am amazed that there was an answer involved here! So many people pooh-pooh pain in the lady parts. I have pain during sex and can’t wear tampons which I self-diagnosed as endo after years of doctors ignoring me, though who knows what the problem really is. Maybe someday I’ll get around to doing something about it too 😉

  4. I’ve had no lingering issues (thank goodness – Stella was 8#2oz and a 2nd degree tear b/c she came out a bit sideways, yet Harvey was 9#5oz and I had no tearing at all!). My SIL had a prolapsed uterus after her 2nd child though, and she has chosen not to do anything yet b/c they are TTC #3 (just had a m/c actually *sigh*). I know it bothers her for running and sex though. I hope you are able to get some relief from this!

  5. I was just discussing this with another c-section mom – that thank god we don’t have issues with our lady parts due to childbirth. I am quite glad no babies have exited my womb that way. All the guilt over having c-sections has been long-gone after watching many friends struggle with their lady bits.

    my sister had to have her vag and anus completely reconstructed due to her 10+ pound baby. She had her boobs and tummy reduced at the same time (massive boobs!) to save money on anesthesia for those two elective surgeries. She had lots to reconstruct after babies (loose hanging skin, vag, anus, boobs). Ugh. She hasn’t regretted any of it!

    I’m anxious to hear about your consultation!

  6. In my case, it’s butt issues. You hear all about the ‘will my vagina be different after childbirth?!’ concerns and never give a second thought that you will now get hemorrhoids every time you so much as sneeze.

    My friend is actually going through similar issues, she can’t do a jumping jack as it will cause her innards to attempt to become an outard. I hope you both find resolution and heal.

  7. I had reconstructive work a year after my son was born. He was small (6 pounds) but came out weirdly. I think his hand was up by his face as he came out. It sucked and I had to do six weeks of therapy afterwards to keep scar tissue from healing incorrectly. That said, it was totally worth it. Four years later, things are more or less back to where they were.

    I agree that women do not talk about the collateral damage of birth. So much talk about the how’s and whys of giving birth, and some talk of ppd (which is wonderful and should be even more!), but nothing at all about the lingering discomfort, pain, or need for serious interventions. When i first had the surgery, people asked me what it was and I had trouble even finding the right words. i actually had to go to three ob/gyns before someone would take it seriously. The first two said, “I’m sure it will get better–don’t worry.” The third said, “you can’t live like this. You need surgery ASAP.” So glad I listened!

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