woman with colposuspension
Incontinence

Colposuspension: Stitching Up Leaks

We know bladder leaks are no fun, and after a while, it may seem like you’re running out of treatment options. But have you considered colposuspension? Colposuspension is a surgical procedure designed to help you keep bladder leaks at bay and live your best life. Read on for the basics on this procedure that is a lifesaver for people who suffer from leaks and spritz.

What is a Colposuspension?

Don’t let the tongue-twister fool you. To get an idea of how a colposuspension is beneficial, let’s do a quick refresher on incontinence. Due to many factors, like childbirth and aging, there may be damage to the structures around the urethra, which usually contracts to hold in urine leaks. Just in case you forgot, the urethra is the pipe that pee goes through to help empty the bladder. Damage to these structures causes weakness in contractions, and as a result, those darn leaks.

A colposuspension consists of stitches being placed in the vagina on either side of the urethra. The doctor will then tie these stitches to supportive ligaments in the body, such as a supportive tissue behind the pubic bone, to elevate the vagina.

Why a Colposuspension?

Here’s the deal: after one year of surgery, around 80% of women found that their stress incontinence issues were either majorly improved or altogether cured. I don’t know about you, but this is a super reassuring statistic for all the gals looking for an effective long-term treatment for spritz and drips. There are two types of colposuspension:

  • Open colposuspension involves a larger abdominal incision, so post-operative healing may take a little longer. However, this type of colposuspension boasts the highest success rate.
  • Laparoscopic colposuspension, also known as keyhole surgery, involves the operating surgeon making smaller cuts. The length of the cuts makes it easier for people to go back to work and resume their routines in no time, but the success rate isn’t as good.

Am I a Good Candidate?

If you suffer from urine leaks when you sneeze, laugh, cough, and so on, this procedure may sound like a dream. It’s important to talk to a trusted medical professional, however, as there are a few kinks in the list of folks who may be the best candidates for this procedure. Consider the following to determine if you are or aren’t a good candidate:

#1 Is Your Incontinence A Big Problem?

If so, you should consider this procedure. If you find your bladder is still not a big issue but are wondering if you should get this procedure “just in case,” the answer is probably no. This is not the type of procedure you should get to be on the safe side. You should only get it if your treatment options are sparse, and your incontinence issues are pretty life-altering. 

If your bladder leaks aren’t severe enough for surgery (or if you aren’t a good candidate or if you just don’t feel like going under the knife), Lily Bird pads and underwear can be a great option. Plus, they are delivered directly to your door.

#2 Have You Had Any Previous Surgeries?

Again, this is when you want to sit down and discuss any past procedure histories with your doctor. Depending on the type of surgeries you’ve had, your doctor might suggest that you consider other procedures, like sling surgery

#3 Are You Starting A Family?

If you intend to have a bundle of joy in the next year or two, it’s probably best you don’t get this type of procedure. With the placement of stitches, pregnancy and childbirth may alter changes made, and might even cause the success of the surgery to end.

Are There Any Risks?

Like with any procedure, there are a few risks that come with a colposuspension. Some of the noted risks that may occur after this surgery include:

  • Failure to work (20% of patients reported this after one year)
  • Difficulty passing urine. Researchers found that about 10% of women had trouble peeing. Though this can improve, in the worst cases, it may become permanent.
  • Overactive bladder symptoms (the gotta-go right now feeling). Though some women reported having these symptoms already, an overactive bladder reportedly happened around 17% of the time.
  • Difficulty or pain with sexual intercourse. Sorry to all the gals looking to get back on the saddle, but there’s about a six week waiting period after the procedure, and even then, we recommend a large amount of lube. Some women report a less intense orgasm, considering the stitching placement in the vagina.
  • A prolapse in the back vaginal wall. This affected 14% of women after the colposuspension.

Very rarely, the stitches erode into the bladder and have to be removed.

Ask Your Doctor About Colposuspension

Stress incontinence can be a real pain, and dealing with leaks is life-altering. Fortunately, certain procedures are available to help improve the quality of life for people who suffer from leaks and drips, one being the colposuspension. This is not a procedure to take lightly, and it’s definitely not one you should do “just to be safe.” However, if you’ve talked to your doctor and agreed that your symptoms call for it, a colposuspension can greatly better or even completely cure incontinence issues. See for yourself, and take a step to kick leaks out of your life.

Are bladder leaks holding you back? Lily Bird‘s got you covered with pads and underwear for bladder leaks delivered directly to your door.

By Jessica Thomas, MPH