A woman’s fears and anxieties regarding child birth can be a daunting list. Along with the myriad of worries about raising a happy, healthy child, the physical effects of pregnancy and child birth on her body often take a back seat to the more pressing issues. However, the reality of physical changes usually sets in very quickly. “Baby weight”, stretch marks and lactation are found at the top of the list in the early days. But, beyond these obvious effects, often overlooked, are the changes that can occur in a woman’s vaginal area.
As time passes and sexual relations resume, some women may notice changes in the physical sensations experienced with intercourse. Stretching of the tissues and surrounding muscles during a vaginal delivery, as well as an episiotomy (incision at the vaginal opening to allow for delivery) may leave a woman with a feeling of laxity. She may experience less pleasure during intercourse than she remembered feeling before the birth. The reduction of friction, noticed by her, may also cause her to worry that her partner may be feeling the same laxity and reduced pleasure. Stress and anxiety about these adjustments to her body can sometimes lead to feelings of inadequacy and further affect her sexuality.
In addition to these early symptoms of a changed anatomy, injury to the supporting structures of the bladder and urethra, often unnoticed at the time of child birth, may contribute to issues with stress incontinence even years later. Urinary stress incontinence may involve an involuntary loss of urine during sneezing, laughter or even sex.
In years past, most women felt that these changes were the unavoidable and natural consequences of procreation; relatively simple surgical procedures exist today to correct these problems. Vaginaplasty, in various forms, can involve a simple tightening of the muscles around the vagina and the entrance to the vagina. This can improve the sensations experienced during intercourse and help to bring back the feelings of sexuality and confidence a woman may have had prior to giving birth. Other procedures may be performed for more extensive reconstructive needs.
Urinary stress incontinence can often be corrected by supporting the bladder at the critical area where the urethra connects to the bladder. There are several ways to do this including the insertion of a small, thin mesh to support this area or a supportive vinyl sling placed under the urethra, as well as other methods.
While diet and exercise can help a woman regain her pre-pregnancy figure and topical treatments, natural and prescribed, may reduce the appearance of stretch marks, an experienced, competent surgeon can help her to restore her pre-baby confidence and physical well-being by correcting what was previously thought to be the inevitable result of bearing children.